5 Questions with Missy Heilman, Founder & Executive Director and Macy Kramer, Director of Marketing of BIO Girls.
Questions by Dayna Bastian
Missy, what was the inspiration behind launching BIO Girls?
BIO Girls began in 2013 in Fargo, North Dakota. What started as a passion project for me, has since blossomed into a program that has taken the Midwest by storm, reaching 2,700 girls, yearly. As a mother of two girls, I became sensitive to the messages my girls were receiving from every angle. Knowing how impactful the mentors were that I had in my life, and after looking for a way to give back myself, BIO Girls was created. I was in pursuit for BIO Girls to be a resource, equipping girls to successfully navigate their adolescent years. “Beautiful Inside & Out,” a feeling every girl deserves to have. As a lifelong runner, I found many lessons in running. Not lessons about being first, but instead learning to put yourself first. Lessons such as how to manage stress in a healthy way, how to stay physically active, to be accountable, to set goals: all of which transpired to BIO Girls. An opportunity to teach girls the same.
What is the mission and vision of BIO Girls?
Mission: To improve the self-esteem in adolescent girls through empowerment of self and service to others.
Vision: Our vision is a world where self-acceptance empowers all girls to be their best, bold, and beautiful self – inside and out.
Can you give us a brief overview of the programs you offer?
BIO (Beautiful Inside & Out) Girls is a self-esteem-building program serving girls in grades 2 – 6. A BIO Girls program meets for 12 sessions, 90 to 120 minutes each. Each lesson combines:
• Christian, Non-Denominational Devotion: BIO Girls believes faith is an important element of well-being. We teach participants to look upward and inward for acceptance, rather than outward. Each location’s Site Director chooses to include or take out this element. The vast majority choose to include.
• Life-Skills Lessons: BIO Girls curriculum is evidence-based and research-proven. The proprietary life-skills curriculum equips participants with the skills necessary to overcome societal pressures and realize their inherent value. The BIO Girls curriculum is based on four pillars: Mental Wellness, Healthy Relationships, Leadership, and Kindness. Each location also does a hands-on service project, allowing participants to experience the power of helping others.
• Mentoring: Research proves adolescents with a non-familial role model have higher self-esteem, better psychological well-being, and greater satisfaction in life. Our volunteer mentors engage participants in small group activities, and provide support and encouragement during physical activity.
• Physical Activity: BIO Girls uses non-competitive physical activity to teach participants accountability, goal setting, the importance of celebrating progress, and bucket filling. BIO Girls celebrate their accomplishments through a finale event at the end of their season.
We are also in the pilot stages of a teen program! We anticipate the program’s rollout in 2023, with the participant age range of 13-17 years old. The modules of this program include Body Image, Mental Wellness, Self-Confidence, Relationships, and Faith & Teens.
How many children benefit from your program?
In 2022, we have the capacity to reach 2,700 participants, across four states. Since BIO Girls’ inception in 2013, nearly 10,000 participants have gone through the program. Learn more about our program on our website: biogirls.org
How can someone become involved with BIO Girls?
Our programs are 100% volunteer facilitated. Each program location is led by a volunteer Site Director and accompanied by volunteer Mentors. See all volunteer roles and requirements, and how to apply, on our website: biogirls.org/get-involved G
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PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY BIOGirls
From Issue 3, 2022