CINCINNATI -- A Cincinnati Public Schools program called Girls to Women is designed to turn young girls into the leaders of a new generation.
"(We're) giving them the ability to have opportunities and experiences to flex the muscles of creativity, of leadership, of conflict management," Cincinnati Public Schools community partnerships interim manager Ife Bell said.
CPS had a comparable boys' program for years and started the girls' program in 2015 after seeing a rise in interest. In it, the students are exposed to role models who understand the challenges the girls face. Among them is Morgan Owens, an entrepreneur who wrote a book about her experiences overcoming low self-esteem and bullying.
In a recent exercise, she shared her story and asked the girls to write positive notes about themselves.
"(I'm) just someone standing in front of them, encouraging them, letting them know it's okay to hurt," Owens said. "It's okay to cry. It's okay to be frustrated, but don't live in that moment forever."
According to Bell, an increasing number of schools want to be a part of Girls to Women.
"We've expanded from 11 schools to 22 schools this year," she said. "We're working on -- hopefully by January -- 25 schools."
The program can accept only about 20 students per school. In the long term, CPS hopes to start as early as kindergarten.