Girl Power program teaches girls about health, healthy relationships
BY MIKE AVERILL World Staff Writer
Thursday, February 07, 2013
2/07/13 at 7:43 AM
Paula Royce has worked for 10 years to provide young women with the tools to form healthy relationships and build self-worth.
Through the Girl Power program, which she oversees, she provides intervention and prevention services to middle and high school students. The girls receive help with community resources and education on safety and sexual health.
For her efforts, Royce has been awarded Domestic Violence Intervention Services' Hearts Award. The award recognizes educators for their community service and ongoing commitment to educating students about healthy relationships.
"We focus a lot on healthy relationships, whether it be friendships or through a dating partner," said Royce, the program's coordinator.
"We know that there is a lot of abuse happening in teen dating relationships. So we try to provide the girls with different tools and skills to keep that from happening to them."
A lot of the girls in the program are dealing with issues such as trauma, stress and grief and come from families that might be struggling educationally or financially.
"We live in a state with high incarceration, especially among females, and a number of my girls don't have appropriate role models in their home," Royce said.
"They're learning a lot of this stuff from their friends, and they don't have accurate information."
Royce sees about 130 girls a week at 12 Tulsa public schools and at one Union public school who are chosen by their school counselors.
She also works at the detention center with girls who are on probation.
In addition to providing education and resources, the program also teaches the girls that they are worthy of a healthy relationship and shows them what that relationship should look like.
"If they've never seen a healthy relationship before, they don't know what it looks like or have never seen what getting up and going to work in the morning looks like," Royce said.
"So they've got to be able to see it, touch it and feel it. Our goal is for them to be happy, healthy, self-sufficient young women who contribute to our community."
Kendyall Bazile, an eighth- grader at Memorial Junior High School, said the pro- gram has taught her to respect herself.
"I don't think I would have learned as much as I have and would have gotten into some serious trouble" without the program, she said. "It's educated me in many ways."
Said Tracey Lyall, executive director of DVIS/Call Rape: "Paula has been in the schools for more than 10 years, and we've seen the difference she's made in the lives of young girls. She provides vital resources for girls that they might not have received without her weekly classes.
"We're fortunate to work with and teach her students about healthy relationships, teen dating violence, Internet safety and much more."
Original Print Headline: Powering up girls
Mike Averill 918-581-8489
Girl Power Program Coordinator Paula Royce speaks with students at Memorial Junior High School on Wednesday. Royce has been awarded Domestic Violence Intervention Services' Hearts award. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Program Coordinator Paula Royce (right) provides intervention and prevention services to middle and high school students through the Girl Power program. The girls receive help with community resources and education on safety and sexual health. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World