Girls show their mettle at Camp Perry

HARLINGEN — “Martina, you are wonderful,” someone had written on the crumpled piece of paper.

Even though it was crumpled, it still meant as much to her as if it were new. And so it is with every young girl, that no matter how bad things seem to be going, their value never diminishes.

This kind of empowerment was the theme of yesterday’s #GirlStrong at Camp Perry where 35 teenagers and 40 elementary school girls spent the day. The event, organized by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harlingen, engaged the girls in a variety of activities focusing on self esteem and empathy towards others.

“It’s been great,” said Hilda Gathright, director of the LeMoyne Gardens Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harlingen.

“We’re talking about having low self-esteem and trying to get girls to know that they are worthy, that they are someone special,” Gathright said.

The girls appeared to be taking the lessons to heart.

“They were telling us to have self-confidence because it’s good to have self-confidence in ourselves,” said Casey Vidal, 14.

“A lot of girls think they’re not worth anything and they are,” she said.

Casey was especially touched by a story about a boy who was having a really hard day. Alma Dones, director of the Wilson Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs, said it was about the damage of misspoken words.

“The boy’s day started off on a bad note with his mom giving him a hard time, so every time they heard something negative they tore a piece from a paper heart,” Dones said. “From leaving his house, to the bus driver, to the janitor at the school, to the teacher, to the bully.”

Once the hearts had been torn to pieces by the words directed toward the boy, the girls were asked to put their hearts back together with glue. Of course they couldn’t do it.

“That’s where we are trying to tell them that sometimes we can’t take back the cruel things we say to people we care about,” Dones said. “So we have to be very careful about our words.”

Casey seemed angry over the boy’s predicament.

“You can maybe have a bad day but other kids are having a worse day than you,” she said. “You don’t know because you’re just interested in yourself and you don’t care about anybody else because you’re selfish.”