At Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, we want our young people to leave our care feeling empowered. For many of our children, that feeling of empowerment may be missing from their lives after the traumatic events they’ve experienced before coming to Boys Ranch.
Experiences like the annual Boys Ranch Rodeo, participating in home or school activities or working towards a certification in our Experiential Learning Program are all designed to help our young people understand how their hard work impacts their success, not just at Boys Ranch, but later in life.
For the last few years, the Boys Ranch Recreation Department has been gifted complimentary tickets to attend the Laura Bush Institute for Women’s Health annual “Girl Power: Girls in Real Life” event, a special program for girls between the ages of 10 and13, and the important women in their lives.
“I think the age group that it reaches is such a vulnerable age. It’s middle school. They are stuck in the middle of getting out of elementary and moving into high school,” Shelli Miner, director of preadolescent activities, said. “So, I think they are pulled in different directions.”
Miner said Boys Ranch this year brought its largest group yet, with more than 16 girls attending. Throughout the evening, speakers reminded the girls they have a voice, and that they are valued and worthy — a message familiar to any girl at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch.
“For them to know that this (event) was made just for them … (shows) them how important … and loved they are,” said Ashley Todd, a house parent at Veigel Home.
Among the evening’s important gifts, the young girls in attendance learned about the power of using their voice to stick up for themselves and others.
“I think it reinforced what we teach, that it’s O.K. to tell,” Todd said. “If something happens, they tell us … (it reinforced) that they have the power to do that.”
To top off the excitement, girls also had the chance to meet and get their pictures taken with the inspirational Miss Texas 2018, Madison Fuller, who shared her story of hard work and perseverance on her road to becoming Miss Texas and competing for the title of Miss America.
Fuller shared how she competed many times for the title of Miss Texas. And, she reminisced about the heartbreak of not winning the title of Miss America in this year’s competition. Although she was disappointed, she reminded the girls that despite her loss — or losses they may experience in their own lives — she had not failed because she already had accomplished so much. In the future, they may have similar experiences, but they need to remember what they have accomplished.
The evening was a huge success for our girls. They left the room feeling energized and excited for a chance to come next year.
“I could see a change in them,” Todd said. “I could see that they felt empowered.”