Building self-esteem in young girls

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BY LAURA MULROONEY, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — Body shaming is the act of making critical comments about one’s size or weight, whether it is toward oneself or another, according to popular sociological and psychological definitions.

Self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self.

Dr. Shari Hooker, CEO and director of the Caring for Girls Academy Inc., aims to build self-esteem in others through knowledge. She believes that a girl’s physical body and inner body are linked to self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem.

As part of the MLK Day of Service, Caring for Girls Academy Inc., will host a two-day conference next month providing educational sessions in the categories of etiquette, physical fitness and growth and development.

The first day will take place at the Pentecostal Temple Church, 2230 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg, on Jan. 7 beginning at 8 a.m. Girls between the ages of 12-18 will be split into smaller groups and will be taught appropriate conventions of society ranging from table manners to how social skills relate to various interactions with others. Simultaneously, a medical professional will answer questions and cover topics about body development, both physically and mentally. Groups will then swap.

The second day of the conference will take place Monday, Jan.16 starting at 8: 30 a.m. at Seminole Park, 30th Street North and Third Avenue North, St. Petersburg. Here the girls will focus on physical education and nutrition. Participants will be encouraged to express their opinions and give suggestions for any improvements at the end of each exercise.

Last year Caring for Girls Academy Inc., played host to 30 participants, and this year Hooker is looking to double the number of young ladies.

As a mental health therapist within the Pinellas County School system, Hooker sees how detrimental emotional and physical abuse is on young school-aged girls.

“I see younger moms and if they don’t know, how are they raising babies who are supposed to know,” she said. “The more [girls] that we can reach, the more our numbers increase, the more girls we can hold onto.”

Hooker’s goal is to educate the young ladies in a friendly structured environment where they can speak freely.

“I want to get their feelings out, I want them to talk,” said Hooker.

Caring for Girls, Inc. was founded in 2011 and started doing workshops as early as two years ago. The program has had a history of inconsistent participation, which Hooker attributes to inconsistencies in the girls’ lives.

“I believe their choices are based off of their self-esteem. Whether too high or too low,” she remarked.

Hooker has reached out to schools, churches, Facebook and even her own daughter and her friends.

The conference and monthly workshops are in need of participants and volunteers who “walk the walk and talk the talk.”

Dr. Hooker can be reached at shooker48@caring4girls.com or (727) 349-8197. For more information on Caring for Girls, Inc., logon to caringforgirls.com.

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