A 13-year-old girl traded her dreams of being a doctor for motherhood. Everyone told her she couldn’t do both, and for a while she believed them. Two-years later, at 15, something clicked in her heart and mind when she attended the Girls Rule Foundation’s (GRF) Brilliant, Beautiful and Bold (BBB) event with her basketball team.
“After the workshop she said, ‘I believed other people when they said that I couldn’t be a doctor and a mother, but I’m leaving this workshop committed to being a doctor. I’m not going to believe anyone else; I’m going to do it,’” says Dena Patton, co-founder and executive director of GRF.
The purpose of GRF is to help girls dream big and build bright futures. The Foundation empowers them to lead healthy, successful lives, while encouraging higher education and leadership. It also helps girls find their voice and recognize their worth, accomplishing this through four different programs, most of which are offered at no cost.
The BBB event is its signature program, and most popular. GRF lays out a pink carpet and puts up a photo booth so girls can snap photos while holding a sign declaring ‘I AM Brilliant, Beautiful and Bold.’ It also offers a 60-minute inspirational workshop that empowers girls to recognize their brilliance and embrace their talents. Then GRF gifts them with a ‘wear and share bracelet’ to commemorate the event.
Girls Rule Foundation is a young program, founded in 2008. It has spent some of those years building a strong infrastructure, so it will be in the best position to fulfill its goals. While it has 100 volunteers, 15 strong women on the board of directors and two advisory boards (one of which is comprised of teens), there are only three women who conduct the programs. However, that’s about to change as GRF moves forward with its first leadership certification program.
“Our goal in 2016 is to reach 12,668 girls. The biggest way we are going to accomplish this is through our new certification program. If we have 20 or maybe even 30 people get certified, we can do it,” says Patton.
This year GRF served nearly 1,200 girls, but could have served many more with the right leaders in place. Patton leads by example, with big dreams of her own, and is confident that GRF can reach its goal. Certified leaders will be able to conduct the signature BBB program locally or nationally.
“This is a way that people can give back and get involved. A lot of people love our work and want to work with the girls, but unless they worked with one of our three facilitators we haven’t had a way to do that until now,” says Patton.
The first training will be held on February 20, 2016. People can apply online for the free five-hour training. They’ll learn GRF’s four-point curriculum and how to conduct the BBB program. Certification requirements include booking a program within 30 days, committing to lead four workshops a year and attending either the GRF Summer Camp or Annual Mother Daughter Shine Brightly Summit in the fall.
No Permission Needed
“No one gave me permission to change the world. In fact, I got the opposite. So many people need to stop thinking ‘who am I to make a difference. We all might have something that moves our heart, from animal abuse to domestic violence, mine is girls’ empowerment and leadership,” says Patton.
While no one gave Patton permission to change the world, her personal journey as an award-winning entrepreneur, professional speaker and business coach, as well as her years of training in self-development and leadership, set her up for the job.
“The change I want to see in the world is leaders helping girls realize their dreams and how beautiful, brilliant and bold they are, so they become our next generation of strong leaders.”