Ella Sipe, an eighth grader at Sutton Middle School, has been selected by HealthMPowers and Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta as a student leader for the new Girls Empowering Movement Program (GEM).
Sponsored by The Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation, GEM is a five-year statewide initiative to improve middle school girls’ physical activity.
Ella is one of only 14 middle school girls from across the state selected to serve on the GEM Leadership Team. The girls have been working closely with HealthMPowers staff during the design phase of the program and collectively decided on the name GEM because they felt it represented the strength, value and confidence they hope to inspire in their peers. The team also announced the project in a video and provided direction in creating the GEM logo.
Spurred by Georgia FitnessGram® data that shows a sharp decline in girls’ aerobic capacity from 51 percent in 5th grade to only 31 percent in 12th grade and a gender disparity in fitness levels among middle school girls and boys, the program will empower and engage 18,000 girls from 120 sites across Georgia. The GEM program will be implemented in schools, Girl Scout Troops, and Boys and Girls Clubs starting in the fall of 2021.
GEM is a collaborative initiative led by HealthMPowers in partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs of Georgia, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, and Wolf Wellness Lab at the University of West Georgia. The organizations are working together to ensure that the girls’ voice drives all program elements and keeps them at the forefront.
“GEM is different because the entire program is designed and led by actual middle school girls from across the state, not just adults,” Ella said. “We know firsthand what it’s like to be a middle school girl in this busy and stressful generation. Therefore, we can provide the best plans and ideas.”
Sutton Middle School Principal Gail Johnson said she couldn’t be more proud of Ella.
“Ella represents the epitome of a Sutton student. She demonstrates all of the Learner Profile attributes of an IBMYP student,” Principal Johnson said. “She is a positive role model and a dedicated student. We are so proud of her accomplishments and believe that her involvement in GEM will not only enhance her experiences in middle school, but her leadership will also positively impact her peers.”
For more information about the Girls Empowering Movement (GEM) program, visit HealthMPowers.org/GEM.