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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

'Girl Talk' makes delicate discoveries easier -- and fun

Friday, February 25, 2011

Emily Osterhaus
Is there anything more uncomfortable than being a 12-year-old girl and having to get "The Talk" from her mom? Yep -- being the mom.

The Bedford County Extension Office has a way of making that information exchange clearer, less uncomfortable, and, in fact -- fun.

"We play games," said Emily Osterhaus, the extension agent who facilitates the "Girl Talk" program. "We also do affirmation activities and skits."

"Girl Talks" is a four-class program partially funded by a March of Dimes grant for girls ages 9-12 and their moms that "bridges the communication between mothers and daughters," she said. "It's not just about the changes in a daughter's body, but about sex, pregnancy, decision making, family values and all that. By the time they leave class, they know everything."

In fact, she said, one girl came up to her after the classes and announced the decision she'd made.

"She said she was never going to have children," said Osterhaus, laughing.

She stresses that the program is abstinence-based and will only discuss birth control if directly asked by someone in the class.

The first class is Monday from 6-8 p.m., but only the moms are invited to that one.

"We tell them what the classes are going to be all about," said Osterhaus. "I've never had a mom who didn't let her daughter come after the first meeting, but they are relieved when they know exactly what the class is going to be about."

The remaining classes will be March 7, 14 and 21.

The program has been going on since before Osterhaus came to work at the Extension office 14 years ago, although there wasn't one last year. She said the class is important because it provides not only facts, but self-esteem and awareness activities.

In one of those activities, one girl will wear a sign with the letters ILAC on them, standing for I'm Lovable and Capable. The others will make remarks to the girl. For every critical negative remark, part of the sign is torn away. When positive remarks are made, the torn bits are taped back on.

"But it will never be really whole again, not like it was," said Osterhaus. "They can see how negative attitudes tear people down."

Some of the activities are purely academic.

"We study anatomy," she said. "I'll put questions about it on a slip of paper inside a balloon and when the girls pops the balloons, they have to answer the question that's in there."

There is a fee for the course, $15, but that covers the costs of supplies, snacks and prizes. For more information, call 684-5971.