BY KEVIN GREEN, Elizabethton Star
The Like a Girl club at T.A. Dugger Jr. High School (TAD) is closing out its first year since its inception in the Fall of 2018. The club was started by two enterprising young students who saw a need to encourage middle school girls to distinguish themselves at a crucial time in their development.
Like a Girl was originally started by Elizabethton High School students Taylor Long and McKenna Kiser as a project in the Bartleby program. However, Kiser, now a senior, is no longer involved in the group and has been replaced with Abby Markly.
The focus of the group is centered around current social issues faced by today’s girls in their formative years, such as bullying, self-esteem, and kindness to other girls. The activities, according to Taylor Long, are project based instead of “just preaching things to girls.”
“We have open topics that the girls want to talk about it as well as a specific topic we want to focus on every week,” Long said. Long explained that these topics and activities could be an elaborated self-defense event to a lesser involved personal hygiene discussion faced specifically by girls.
The club also wants girls to be more self-confident and focused and less worried about events currently outside their control.
“We want them to not get through middle school just to make it through. We want them to see where they are and be able to be content in that and not worry about making it to high school,” added Abby Markly. Markly stressed they wanted to shift the outlook of the girls on doing well in their current situation and be an asset to other girls “now.”
The club is assisted and monitored by school counselors and staff. Ariel Minnick is the club’s counselor and a source where girls can go to for help of complicated social and mental health issues, for which the group has a partnership with the teen operated mental health support group called STRIVE.
The group is also currently supported with planning and direction by the following TAD teachers: Dustin Hensley, who is the teacher of the Community Improvement class that hosts this club as a semester-based project; and Tori Reeves, Rachel Arrowood and Kristin Waite, who serve on a rotation basis as advisors.