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- By Brittney McNamara, Wicked Local Walpole -
Bringing life to an otherwise zen yoga studio, 10 elementary school girls burst into the Humble Warrior studio on West Street chatting loudly about new hairstyles and their half day at school. With no shame and little caution in the quiet and calm space, the girls embodied the exact reason they came to the studio: Girl Power.
At the first Girl Power class in Walpole, founder Erin Mahoney taught local 4th grade girl scouts how to be strong and self confident in a world that often makes it hard for young girls to do so. In the first half of the two-part class, Mahoney taught Walpole’s girls the importance of self-importance, encouraging them to be happy and kind to find their inner strength.
"I am strong, I am smart, I am amazing," the group yelled in unison, driving home Girl Power’s core principles. Mahoney, a Milford resident, started the program four years ago in order to show girls they are powerful. Through "I am statements," stressing the importance of healthy eating and being active, and giving life tips to girls to help them harness their strength, Mahoney’s program hopes to help the area’s girls grow up with an empowered sense of self.
After being raised by a single mother, breaking the glass ceiling in what she called the "man’s world" of the Air Force, and helping her niece through bullying problems, Mahoney said she saw an ongoing issue that prompted her to intervene.
"It’s critical for girls to know they have a voice," Mahoney said, describing why she started Girl Power. "Girls’ bodies and friends and schools are changing, but they have the power to be fabulous."
Designed for girls in grades 1 through 8, Mahoney provides a series of four, six or eight week courses in towns throughout the Metrowest area. Through a special partnership with the Girl Scouts, Mahoney set up the two-part Walpole program. The first part focused on self-confidence and fitness, while the second will focus on the importance of healthy eating and proper rest.
Starting with ducking and weaving, developing a strong right hook, Mahoney lead the girls through kickboxing moves to make them feel strong. Taking a firm stance and throwing out a jab, the group yelled "I am fabulous," followed by big smiles.
Using arts and crafts, Mahoney had the girls create small bags filled with sticky notes to remind themselves each day how great they are and to make empowering choices.
"I am awesome, I am gorgeous," Brooke Rameaka, 10, wrote to herself. Inspired by Mahoney’s Air Force habit of writing sticky notes with comforting or inspiring phrases when she felt homesick, she encouraged the girls to look at the notes daily to remember what she said she already knew about them.