Helping Middle School Girls “Shine” Bright in Pine Grove

The Shine Girls writing and listening to what Ann Wolfe is teaching. This week, the lesson was about grounding yourself. This means, staying in the present moment and not letting the past or present make you feel upset or stressed.

Hallie Wolfe, Staffer

When you walk into The Open Door Project for “Shine Girl”, you are greeted with the feeling of safety and the smell of fresh coffee. The first thing the girls do is grab a number from a cup that corresponds with a place at one of the tables. The organizers of the program have the girls complete this exercise so the girls sit with other girls who are not in their normal social group.  In turn, this activity also makes sure that no girl feels disconnected or not included in the group or in the discussion. After they sit down, they are served breakfast, and a choice of cappuccino or hot chocolate. 

“Shine Girl” is a program that has been developed for girls and young women of all ages to learn the truth of their intrinsic value. They learn that their worth cannot be changed no matter what happens in their life. The program also teaches girls about their inner strength and gives them the tools to use that strength in their everyday lives. The core truth of the shine program is purpose. Each girl learns that she is here for  a reason and has a unique gift to contribute to the world. An example of a lesson that is taught at Shine Girl is “Worth”. During the lesson, they were shown a ten dollar bill. It was crumpled faded, and a little ripped, but it is still worth ten dollars. It is not worth any less. The point of this was to show the girls that no matter what was done or said to them, they were still worth the same and are important and it does not make them worth any less. Another example of a lesson that is taught is “grounding yourself.” A lot of times, stress and anxiety stems from past or present experiences. Grounding yourself means to stay in the present and realize you are safe in this present moment. “Shine is a safe place,” says Karley Brown, a sixth grader who attends Shine. “Everyone is special and everyone matters and it is important that everyone knows they have worth.” 

The woman who teaches Shine Girl is Ann Wolfe who is also the president on the board of the Open Door Project. “I started Shine Girl in Pine Grove, two years ago, because I saw a great need in the hearts of the girls in our community,” says Wolfe. There’s so much pressure from social media and the world in general that you have to look and be seen a certain way in order to be beautiful or worthy of love. I remember what it’s like to be a young girl searching for my worth and while it took me well into my adulthood to truly believe in my own worth I wanted to teach the girls what I had learned while they were much younger. When I first started shine I told myself that i would be happy if five girls showed up, that I would be willing to teach it for even three, and never in a million years did I believe the Open Door shop would have to purchase more tables and chairs to accommodate all the girls that were attending. I certainly didn’t expect to have sixty four girls signed up within a month of starting the program in middle school.”

“Ms. Mekosh, the Pine Grove Area Middle School Principal, attended our fundraising event at the theatre last spring and approached me about the possibility of bringing “Shine” into the school because she heard me say that I believe every single girl needs the message of “Shine”,” says Wolfe. “Middle school will be some of the most challenging years our students go through and the “Shine Girl” club is a great addition for our female students,” says Ms. Mekosh. “The club focuses on promoting positivity, recognizing self-worth, building positive relationships and maneuvering through adolescents,” says Ann Wolfe. “The girls and advisors have a wonderful time learning and growing together. Mrs. Burns, the Pine Grove Area Elementary School Principal, my faulcult adviser, Ms. Amy Joa Brixius and I are currently making plans to begin the Shine club in the elementary school within the next few weeks. There is a possibility of 150 girls attending.” The teachers and volunteers who help at the middle school Shine are Amy Joe Brixius who teaches third grade, Ms. Sterner who teaches fifth grade, Mrs. Schwartz who teaches third grade Mrs. Rhonda Brixius and Julie Stump.