Girl Power©™ Introduction and Philosophy

Girl Power logo

The Girl Power philosophy values healthy life choices that empower participants to develop confidence, resist negative peer pressure, do well in school and become active community participants. Girl Power focuses on building resiliency, skills, and strengths which increases the ability of participants to deal with challenges they may face with in their lives including those related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Girl Power promotes responsibility, strength, power, knowledge, courage, and respect for self and others.

The Girl Power beliefs are exhibited in the Girl Power pledge, which reads:

I am a girl with responsibilities, strength, and power. I am a girl who can be anything I want to be. I am a girl with the knowledge and courage to stand up for what I believe in. I am a girl with respect for myself and others. I have Girl Power!

Program Description

Girl Power is a community-based prevention program designed to prevent alcohol, tobacco and other drug use and promote mental wellness for girls ages 10 to 14, and who are in grades 5 through 8. It is often facilitated in schools and community centers. The Girl Power program’s intent is to provide culturally sensitive, gender-specific prevention approaches. Girl Power assists schools and communities in reaching out to girls and provides challenging skill-building activities to help them live healthy, productive, and drug free lives.

Girl Power includes three primary goals along with supporting objectives:

Goal 1 – Reduce the incidence of substance abuse and related risk factors.


– Girls will gain knowledge of substance use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

– Girls will positive their ability to identify healthy life choices.

Goal 2 – Girls will have improved mental health.


– Girls will learn assertiveness, social, and decision making skills.

– Girls will have positive interactions and relationships with peers and adults.

Goal 3 – Girls and their parents will have increased resiliency skills.


– Girls will be involved in all group activities.

– Girls will have an improved attitude about community.

– Girls will have increased community bonding.

– Parents will participate in activities.

– Parents will demonstrate increased knowledge of communication skills with their children.

The Girl Power program has a strong “no use”/abstinence from alcohol, tobacco and other drug use message. It is based on Hawkins and Catalano’s Risk and Protective Factor Framework. Risk factors are behaviors or conditions that increase the likelihood that youth will engage in problem behavior like substance use. Protective factors minimize the impact of risk factors or change the way a person responds to risk. Risk and protective factors are organized around six life domains: individual, peer, family, school, community and society.

Girl Power focuses on reducing known risk factors and enhancing protective factors. Girl Power addresses risk factors at the appropriate developmental stage and targets multiple risk factors across several domains by helping girls develop protective factors. In particular, the program works to build skills that help girls resist involvement with alcohol and other drugs. Girls develop individual and peer protective factors such as learning communication and problem solving in skill building groups and enrichment activities. With regular parent daughter activities, positive bonding and open communication enhances family protective factors. Girls learn about bonding with school and community through service learning projects and become aware of their place in society and their responsibility to themselves and to others.

Girl Power has four components, with each component designed to be offered during the 32 week program. All Girl Power components focus on the program goal of preventing substance use and promoting mental wellness through organized group sessions and planned activities. The goal remains constant regardless of which component is being implemented.

  • Education/Skill Building Groups – Education/Skill Building Groups are interactive and focus on increasing knowledge, clarifying beliefs and attitudes and building skills. These groups are held weekly and are designed to help girls make healthy choices. The manual provides a standard design so that all participants receive the same information in the same way no matter who delivers it or where it is delivered.

Note: Level 1 skill-building lessons are generally geared for younger participants. Level 2 lessons are generally geared towards older participants. Use your judgment based on the makeup and personality of your group.

  • Service Learning Projects – Service Learning Projects are oriented toward cooperative experiences that promote teamwork and civic responsibility. They are designed as experiential learning opportunities to integrate reflection that build on Girl Power group topic areas, promote deeper learning, and support social and emotional awareness. They foster community awareness and bonding while emphasizing personal responsibility for the community in which they live.
  • Enrichment Experiences – Enrichment Experiences are designed to expose and engage participants in healthy community-based cultural, social and recreational activities. These experiences target the development of personal interests, self-confidence and healthy avocations that might be continued outside of Girl Power programming. These experiences also build upon topic areas in Girl Power groups.
  • Parent and Caregiver Involvement – Parental involvement in Girl Power is important to encourage integration of Girl Power topic areas in the home environment. This can be accomplished through participation in appropriate group activities, direct interaction between parent and facilitator, regular newsletters sent home and parent-daughter activities. These activities can enhance parent-child communication and allow parents to maintain a positive connection with their child.

Program Implementation

The Girl Power program is structured as follows:

  • Week one is the introduction and week two is devoted to the pre-program survey (see Implementation and Evaluation Section for surveys and retrospective).
  • The last two weeks include the post-program survey and retrospective followed by a wrap up/graduation ceremony or end of program celebration.
  • The remainder of the program (weeks 3 thru 30) is organized in seven modules each comprised of two education/skill building groups and one each of the service learning projects and enrichment experiences.
  • The Parent-Daughter night should be scheduled in the first half of the program cycle. (see the Parent and Caregiver Resources section)

Education/Skill Building Groups are held weekly and are usually between 60-90 minutes in length.

Service Learning Projects and Enrichment Experiences are included in their own sections. The sample topics are suggestions and may be implemented as is or serve as a guide to the kinds of projects and experiences that will enhance the groups. Facilitators may use their judgment and make alternate topic choices based on the make up of the group and available resources (see relevant sections of the manual).

Facilitators may sequence education/skill building groups in an order that meets their needs (see the sample schedule). However, to meet program objectives there are 11 education/skill-building sessions that are required to be covered (facilitators choose and complete three additional topics) and seven each enrichment experiences and service learning projects. Additionally, facilitators can tie some of the components to the national campaign calendar (see the Partners’ Resources Section).

Historically, some facilitators have used Girl Power Bucks in the program. These can be earned and redeemed throughout the program cycle. For more information see the Implementation and Evaluation Section.

We encourage the schedule be set to include the communication and problem solving groups early in the program. These two lessons provide important skills that the girls will draw upon as the program unfolds.

Sample Girl Power Program Schedule Acrobat PDF file

Printable version of this page, including the Program Schedule. Acrobat PDF file

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