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Mar
02

Supporting Girls During Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month

Nationally, nearly 10% of all teenagers are impacted by teen dating violence. In Florida alone, 8.4% of students experienced physical dating violence and 9.6% of students reported being threatened, controlled, or made to feel unsafe by someone they were dating.

During National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, Pace joined partners and educators across the country to teach girls and young women how to recognize and prevent the dangers of dating violence.

Pace Pinellas welcomed Hands Across Tampa Bay for an important breakfast training on the importance of healthy relationships during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month!

Too often existing systems, like education and mental health care, fail to address the needs of girls who have experienced trauma, like that from dating violence. That’s why at Pace, our team of counselors and educators work to fully understand our girls — including their unique strengths, experiences as young women, and even trauma — when developing individualized plans of care.

Heidi, Pace Pinellas’ development manager, stated:

“We’re grateful to partner with Hands Across the Bay because they’re shining examples of kindness and advocacy in our community. Especially during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, their message of healthy relationships and strength resonate with our girls and empower them to make good decisions for themselves as they navigate relationships during their teenage years.”

Teen relationships can be incredibly complicated, so it is valuable for anyone who interacts with girls and young women to learn the signs of abusive behavior and what it means to be in a healthy relationship. If someone you know might be harmed by teen dating violence, here are a few do’s and don’ts from the Florida Department of Education to support them:

DO:

  • Listen to what the student, family or friend is saying without interrupting.
  • Find out what the person would like to do about the relationship and support them regardless of her decision.
  • Let them know that you will be there for them if they ever need you and share that abuse usually gets worse over time.
  • Expect the person to be confused about their feelings and about what to do. Expect them to change their mind, maybe even a few times.
  • Watch your body language and respect the person’s right to privacy and personal space.
  • Help the person become informed of available resources, such as the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline (1-866-331-9474) or the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-500-1119).
  • Decide how you should proceed with informing any other people, especially if you believe the person who confided in you safety may be in danger.

DO NOT:

  • Judge the person.
  • Give advice. Instead, talk to them about the choices they have and help them find people able to help.
  • Ask unnecessary questions. The person sharing her experience may shut down if she feels she is being pressed to share information that she isn’t ready to talk about.
  • Overreact.
  • Confront the person who was causing harm.  abusive partner about the abuse. Confronting the person calming harm may put you and the person harmed in danger.

During this month and every month, we believe all girls — regardless of their story — deserve safe and inclusive spaces to heal from the traumas they face. Through the Pace Reach program, we offer supportive therapy and counseling specifically designed for girls in middle and high school in a variety of convenient, easy-to-access locations. With our holistic approach, our girls strengthen their interpersonal skills and learn coping skills that help them overcome past trauma and look toward the future.

Learn more about our Reach Program and the services we offer for teen girls.

Feb
23

Pace Day At the Capitol: Girls Reflect on Advocating for Change

In January, we hosted Pace Day at the Capitol (PDAC), our annual advocacy event in Tallahassee, FL that brings Pace girls, leadership and team members together to meet with elected officials.

This event also empowers our girls to use their voices to advocate for themselves and girls like them, in areas including education access, juvenile justice, mental health and more.

Over two days of virtual meetings, training and programs, girls learned about politics and policymaking, ways to effectively advocate for themselves, and how to authentically share their stories. They put their new skills to practice in a mock debate about summer school and the length of the school year and also spoke with state legislators to advocate for the policies that are important to them.

We sat down with two girls, Alyssa from Pace Pinellas and Jay from Pace Jacksonville, who shared about their experiences at PDAC:

Tell us about your experience at PDAC.

Alyssa: Pace Day at the Capitol gave me the chance to be heard by other girls at the Pace centers and the legislators.

Jay: Having my voice heard made me feel important and worth someone’s time. It makes me feel like there is a purpose for me and my decisions. Because of Pace Day at the Capitol, I feel like I am not alone and capable of talking to people and making a difference in today’s world.

 What did you like about the mock debate?

Alyssa: During the mock debate,I was glad to share my opinion about school being optional in the summer. I also got a chance to be heard because talking in front of a lot of people usually makes me really nervous, but because of the support from the girls in the room with me, I was able to speak in front of people.

What impact did Pace Day at the Capitol have on you?

Jay: This experience taught me that having the responsibility of using my voice is important since it can make a difference and help others. It’s important for girls like me to use their voice because in a world with many problems we need people to stand up and speak.

Alyssa: Since the Pace Day at the Capitol, I feel more confident in myself to talk in front of big groups of people. Pace Pinellas itself has also helped me with talking in front of large crowds by challenging myself and pushing myself for the better. It has helped me so much in the long run, and I’m so glad to say that everyone on the Pace Day at the Capitol meetings were supportive to the girls that were talking also.

Any words of advice for other girls interested in participating at PDAC?

Jay: Go for it. I learned a lot from Pace Day at the Capitol, so I think that it can also help other girls as well.

Through Pace Day at the Capitol, our girls embody the strength, passion and integrity to build a better and brighter world for all of us. We continue to be inspired by the growth and development our girls demonstrate to make their communities stronger for all.

Learn More

Alyssa, Pace Pinellas
Jay, Pace Jacksonville

Feb
01

Grow With Pace: Join Our Team

“Leadership is not something you do to people. It’s something you do with people.” — Ken Blanchard

Here at Pace, we value the wellness, growth and development of not only our girls but all our team members. As a trauma-informed organization, we know that everyone, including our team members, comes to the table with their own experiences that shape the way we see and interact with the world. By investing in the growth and futures of our team members, we know that ripples out into the growth and futures of our girls.

One of Pace’s key priorities is to embed our core value of growth into our work culture, where all team members can develop personally and professionally.

That’s why we offer unique benefits and no-cost opportunities that help our team members prioritize their wellness, excel in each of their roles and meet their personal development goals. These unique benefits include: mental health wellness weeks, a $0 cost medical plan option and employer-covered preventative doctor visits. We also offer customized trainings based on your role, including trainings that focus on everything from building high-trust teams, to identifying and addressing biases, to decision and energy management.

Hear from Vipul about what it’s like to work at Pace:

“I love that I have a great degree of control and freedom within my job. I work full-time on a flexible schedule, both in and out-of-office, and my boss trusts me to produce high-quality work and results. I work hard to maintain that level of trust, which keeps me engaged and excited — but at the same time, I love that my job enables me to love and enjoy my other passions in life.”

The work we do at Pace to help underserved girls get the support they need to further their education, overcome past trauma and look toward the future wouldn’t be possible without the passion and commitment our team members put in every single day. If you’ve been looking for inclusive, collaborative, purpose-driven work as well as a culture that prioritizes work-life balance and your professional development, then consider joining our team to make a difference.

Dec
22

Mental Health During the Holidays

The media often presents the holidays as a cheerful time for all. Images of couples kissing under the mistletoe and families gathered around a warm fire dominate our screens throughout the season.

But sometimes, what should be a joyful time instead reminds people of the challenges in their lives; couples being asked when they’ll have children while silently battling with infertility or miscarriages, reminders of lost loved ones, family members experiencing the criminal justice system, or interactions with people who may have caused harm and trauma.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people with mental illness report that the holidays make their conditions worse. Children and teens are not immune from this, as the highest rate of child psychiatric hospitalizations occurs in the winter.

For young women and girls, who according to the CDC experience higher rates of depression than their male counterparts, it is especially important to have access to resources that help them cope with seasonal stress, depression and anxiety brought on by the holidays.

Pace provides support to girls by centering their experiences as young women in today’s world and recognizing how trauma may inform the choices they make.

“This Christmas will be hard for us because this will be the first Christmas without my dad,” said Jennifer, a 16-year old Pace student. “He passed on the 25th of September of this year, so the 25th of December will be even harder. I see my mom doing her best to be strong, so I’m trying to be strong for her. I just wish people understood that Christmas isn’t about presents – it’s about family, so don’t take them for granted.”

We could all use a little more kindness in our lives, so it’s always important to remember that you never know the internal struggles the person in front of you may be smiling through.

Everyone, regardless of their story, deserves safe and supportive spaces to heal. Keep in mind, it’s ok to take care of yourself in whatever way is best for you this holiday season.

Nov
18

Florida Blue & Pace Center for Girls – A Partnership Impacting Girls and Communities Across Florida

If the past year and a half has taught us anything, we’ve learned everyone can play a role in creating a more just and equitable society. For more than 35 years, Pace Center for Girls has been working to advance its mission and transform the lives of girls and young women.

For more than 20 years, Florida Blue, the state’s Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, has supported Pace Center for Girls with meaningful funding, advocacy, and employee engagement. The Florida Blue Foundation values organizations and programs that show promise of lasting community benefit and measurable impact.

Florida Blue’s support of Pace ensures that girls and their families have access to equitable academic and health opportunities, without regard to socio-economic status. 

Sejan, a senior studying chemistry with a minor in leadership at the University of North Florida, experienced these opportunities firsthand.

“Little did I know, when starting with Pace, I was about to receive not only non-judgmental and quality care, but a program and an organization that truly cared and strived to ensure my wellbeing and future academic success.”

Florida Blue’s continued support of Pace has helped build the capabilities and capacity needed for programming and service delivery, strengthening communities across the state.

In addition, the investment in specific markets across Florida directly impacts mental health services for girls and their families, as well as the greater community. This support has allowed Pace to focus on strengthening Pace Reach Counseling Services, providing much needed counseling, case management and mental health services in partnership with schools and community organizations beyond the walls of Pace Centers.

“Our experience with the Reach program was just indescribable. The therapist assigned to us was nurturing, calm and had the amazing ability to help us see things in a way we would not have been able to recognize on our own. Our Reach therapist helped untie knots in our complex relationship and recognize the good in each other.” – Gilda, Parent

Florida Blue’s partnership goes beyond the organizational level and connects at the individual level. It’s Women’s Interactive Network (WIN), a powerful group of more than 100 women, connects directly with girls in communities where they have great need for mentoring, school supplies and basic needs items such as food, clothing, and hygiene products.

True organizational partnerships are about more than a donation. Over the years, several Florida Blue leaders have donated their time by serving on the Pace Center for Girls Board of Trustees to help Pace advance its mission.

Florida Blue’s commitment to health equity, mental health services, and improving the communities it serves are evident in its investments and commitments to the more than 3,000 girls and young women that Pace touches annually.