Young Women in Action
A Mentoring Program in Vancouver, Washington
Young Women In Action (YWIA) is a mentoring program for fifth grade girls provided at no cost to girls or their mentors. YWIA focuses on development of life skills such as friendship, health and hygiene, career, manners and etiquette, "envision your life" exercises and lots of fun.
In spring 2012, Young Women in Action was offered at Marshall, Roosevelt and Washington elementary schools.
YWIA runs for nine weeks, starting in mid March. Says Tish Lilly, former Assistant Principal at Roosevelt elementary, "Young Women In Action provides girls an opportunity to interact with girls who are not in their circle of friends. It's great preparation for middle school when they may find themselves in a class and not know anyone."
The program is run entirely by volunteers. Mentors are local community business women who volunteer their time and energy, building relationships with girls who are heading into middle school. The goal of YWIA is to encourage fifth grade girls to have confidence, faith in their ability to make the "right" choices and allow them to see the world through a different set of eyes. The program began at Washington Elementary in 1993 when a local woman's leadership organization, Women In Action, created a foundation to provide young women from disadvantaged backgrounds a window to a wider world. Young Women in Action has been a rite of passage for fifth-grade girls at Washington ever since. Linda Haines, who has been actively involved since the program started, describes Young Women in Action as: "A labor of love. The program allows girls to know that if they have a plan and work hard, they can be anything they want."In 2009, Young Women in Action moved to the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools.