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“Girl Power” Program Builds Confidence, Friendships, and More

January 2nd, 2024

Monique Washington-Jones giving high fives to DRES students.

Not long after she opened WKD Karate 4 Girls (WKDK4G), Monique Washington-Jones sought ways to get involved in Howard County Public Schools. She participated in Career Day at Deep Run Elementary School (DRES), where she talked to students about her work and being a business owner. She started an afterschool program. But she wanted to do more.

Out of that desire was born “Girl Power,” a mentoring program for elementary-age female students.

“Girl Power is based on our ‘KickstartHER Life Skills’ program that we offer as part of our martial arts training at WKD4G. KickstartHER focuses on life skills that are important in martial arts, but are useful in all realms of life,” explains Washington-Jones.

The Girl Power program consists of four sessions, each centered around a different theme and featuring different theme-related games and activities.

Monique Washington-Jones leading a journaling activity with DRES students.

“We’ve offered sessions on gratitude, where we talk about what gratitude means and how we can express it, and one on confidence, where we talk about what confidence looks and feels like and how we can build it. We’ve also offered sessions on leadership, where we discuss what it means to be a good leader and what steps a leader can take to engage those they lead,” says Washington-Jones.

Students are chosen by school staff to participate in the Girl Power program.

“At Deep Run, we identify a small group of fourth grade girls who we feel could use a boost in some way,” explains Glenna Deekle, DRES’ Title 1 Family Resource Contact who helped bring Girl Power to the school. “Sometimes, that means a boost in their self-confidence; other times it means a boost in connecting with peers.”

Students gain much from participating in Girl Power, Deekle notes.

DRES students sitting on the floor doing an activity with handprints.

“Monique’s lessons are spot-on. They do an amazing job of helping the girls to see themselves in a positive light and to bond with and care about each other.”

At the same time, Deekle says, students benefit from their relationship with Washington-Jones.

“Monique is a strong, powerful, loving person and an outstanding role model for our female students. She listens to and encourages them. She leads by example. And she helps them to find the good in themselves and in each other.”

Monique Washington-Jones sitting in a DRES classroom.

Washington-Jones herself describes Girl Power as a “win-win.”

“It is as fulfilling for me as it is for the girls,” she says. “It’s amazing to see the transformation girls make as they grow in their self-confidence and develop friendships with other girls in the program. I love being part of making that happen.”

In addition to running the Girl Power program, WKDK4G partners with schools during Back to School Nights and Career Days. WKDK4G also periodically serves as a “PE teacher for a day,” hosting martial arts workshops during students’ physical education classes.

As Washington-Jones notes, “It is important to me to be involved. We believe in our role as enrichment partners with a service mindset while giving back to the community and students that we serve.”