Pace Expands Reach Counseling Program to Marion County
Pace Center for Girls is expanding its Reach programming to provide social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health counseling to girls ages 11-17 in Marion County. The program will serve the population through its evidence-based model to help girls and young women build healthy coping skills, address past trauma, and reduce involvement in high-risk behaviors. This expansion is in response to the growing need for mental health resources for young girls in the region and made possible thanks to a Community Impact grant provided by the Marion County Healthcare Foundation.
Over the course of a year, Pace will serve up to 40 girls in Marion County by providing individual, peer group, and family counseling sessions, as well as individual goal setting and implementing strategies for future success. Pace provides Reach Services in neighboring Florence and Darlington Counties and set up a Girls Coordinating Council – a community collaborative that works to improve services for girls – to analyze relevant data and inform favorable outcomes. Enrollment in the program at Palmetto Middle School will begin this August 2023 with outreach to the Success Academy Alternative School.
“We are excited to expand our gender-responsive and strength-based counseling services in South Carolina to the girls of Marion County to support their social and emotional growth,” said Lisa Spears, Program Director of Pace Florence and Darlington. “The emotional health needs in Marion County are significant. For many girls, participating in Pace Reach will be one of their first opportunities to learn about mental and emotional wellness.”
Girls who participate in the program improve their skills and ability to make healthy decisions and reduce harmful habits to their health, wellness and safety. Through these services, girls learn how to manage stress and adversities, improve personal relationships, learn new communication skills and improve school performance.
“I am thrilled to see much needed gender-responsive, trauma-informed, and strength-based mental health and social services coming to adolescent girls in Marion County, through Pace Center for Girls,” said Senator Kent M. Williams. “This is an organization I believe will do great things for our community, and I look forward to continuing to support their work.”
Pace’s Reach expansion in South Carolina follows the national release of the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey. A startling 57% of teen girls—nearly 3 in 5—reported feeling "persistently sad or hopeless," while 30% said they had seriously considered dying by suicide, an increase of 60% since 2011. These numbers are the highest they've been in the last decade, according to the CDC.
“The recent statistics released by the CDC are harrowing, but it is proven that prevention and intervention measures can change these outcomes. Pace’s team of counselors, therapists and educators develop individualized approaches based on each girl’s unique strengths — centering her experience as a young woman in this world,” said April Brownlee, Senior Director of Program Performance and Innovation at Pace Center for Girls. “There is great in every girl, and we are optimistic that our programming will empower girls and change outcomes in South Carolina and beyond.”