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A vision is all it took to change the face of Central Brooklyn.

by Brandy Jamison

Reprinted courtesy of the
Women's Sports Foundation

Joanne Smith
Founder/Executive Director
Girls for Gender Equity, Inc.
Photo credit Lynne Bookey
Photo courtesy of Joanne Smith
Dedicated, uplifting, and enriching are three words that describe the Community Action Program (CAP), Girls for Gender Equity, Inc (GGE). Joanne Smith, the Founder and Executive Director, opened the doors of GGE to the Central Brooklyn Community in 2001. Smith says she “saw Central Brooklyn’s ‘forgotten girls’ sedentary and idle cluttering the stoops and side walks.” Determined to make a change, Smith said she realized she needed to”mobilize a community of parents, teachers, and youth to be apart of revolutionizing the way our communities view strong and athletic girls.”

Acknowledging the need for a community organization like this, seventy low-income African-American and Caribbean community members petitioned the Open Society Institute to allow Smith to establish GGE. After six years of phenomenal growth and involvement in the community, and with a mission to remove barriers and create opportunities for girls and women to live self-determined lives, GGE now keeps 600 NYC girls and boys ages 8-18 off the streets.

GGE’s mission is achieved through three outstanding programs: Youth Organizing, Health & Fitness Program, and Urban Leaders After School Program at MS 61. The Youth Organizing program rallies youth and adults together to generate a change in gender inequality. A diverse number of topics such as Title IX, reproductive rights, and education equity are addressed through educational campaigns, research, and direct action.

The Health & Fitness prprogram gets girls moving and educates them on living a healthy lifestyle. Some activities that encourage physical activity are the Mother/Daughter Health and Playday, National Girls and Women in Sports Day, and After School Fitness Programs. These activities get girls running, jumping and excited about sports and physical activity. The Women’s Sports Foundation’s award winning GoGirlGo! Curriculum is implemented in this program to encourage the girls to live self-determined and healthy lives.

GGE girls volunteer to plant a garden at a senior center
Photo courtesy of Girls for Gender Equity, Inc.

Lastly, the Urban Leaders After School Program at MS 61, reaches out to middle school aged girls in an effort to develop them into informed well-rounded individuals. The activities such as Community World History, Drama and Rites of Passage, and Modern Dance and Yoga are designed to foster academic excellence, career education, and healthy lifestyles. These programs allow for the girls to express their creativity and work together in team situations.

Garden GGE girls planted at a senior center
Photo courtesy of Girls for Gender Equity, Inc.
The safe haven GGE has built in Brooklyn is applauded. They have done an awesome job in executing their programs. The Women’s Sports Foundation recognized their services by awarding GGE with a 2007 GoGirlGo! National Grant. The grant is designed to assist in the expansion and continuation of programs that help underserved girls increase their participation opportunities in physical activities.

Girls for Gender Equity is the model CAP. Their endless energy promoting the well being of girls both physically and mentally is commendable. Their dedication to the spirit of uplifting and enriching girls, both physically and mentally, is refreshing to a community that was thirsty for an organization of this caliber. The Women’s Sports Foundation applauds GGE for their commitment, tireless efforts and for continuing to fight for the young girls in their community.

Written by Brandy Jamison

Reprinted courtesy of the
Women's Sports Foundation

Photos courtesy of Girls for Gender Equity, Inc.
Last changed on: 7/21/2008 9:01:04 PM

Women's Sports Foundation Founded in 1974 by Billie Jean King, the Women’s Sports Foundation is a national charitable educational organization dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women through physical activity.

Girls for Gender Equity, Inc. (GGE)
Through education, organizing, and physical fitness, Girls for Gender Equity encourages communities to remove barriers and create opportunities for girls and women to live self-determined lives.

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