‘Girls Out Loud’ is not a new pop group like the English Irish girl’s group ‘Girls Aloud’ which won the ITV competition in Popstars in 2002. But it is also about girls having voices and being heard.
On their website, Girls Out Loud explains:
“Navigating the way through the challenging teenage years does not get any easier for our girls. In fact, several new developments around smart technology, peer pressure, relational aggression and cyber-bullying, poor body image, early sexualisation, mental health and relationship intimacy place exacting demands on our girls around the time when their individuality, uniqueness and aspirations should be up front and centre.”
Girls Out Loud founder
I spoke to the founder of Girls Out Loud, Jane Kenyon, about her background and what gave her the idea for her project.
On the website Jane is described as “inspiring, courageous and authentic.” Her personal story itself is inspirational: overcoming a difficult childhood which made her leave home at 16, she had a successful corporate career in marketing and 20 years as an entrepreneur.
“For the past 25 years she has been working in the personal development sector facilitating mind-set shifts and personal transformations with both adults and teenagers from all walks of life. Her passion for potential is contagious.”
Empowering teenage girls
Jane has a particular passion for empowering teenage girls as the next generation of female leaders and business women. Around 13 years ago, she started to feel very uncomfortable with shifts observed in teenage girls. They were lagging behind boys academically. Teenage pregnancies were on the rise. Some girls were self harming and had increased anxiety levels. The suicide rates in young girls grew:
“stats show a 94% increase since 2012 in women and girls aged 10-24 taking their own lives – this is now the 2nd highest cause of death among this group.”
Teenagers develop poor body images as they are exposed to unrealistic images of footballers’ wives, glamour models and film stars.
Statistics* show that 44% of girls think ‘being good looking’ is the most important attribute and 35% of teens have stopped or limited their eating due to body image issues. One in three girls drop out of sport during puberty and 55% of 12-16 year olds girls are not active at all.
Sexual assault in schools is on the rise, with police stats showing that one girl every day reports a rape that happened on school premises. One in three girls experience unwanted sexual touching in schools every day. 32% of girls are missing from school once a term. This could be due to mental illness, bullying, periods or illness. On top of this, girls’ exclusion rates are rising (66% in the 5 years prior to COVID).
No mental health support
At the same time, there is little or no mental health support for teens with one in seven referrals being turned away for lack of resources. Only 6% of the mental health service budgets are allocated to children’s services. In the past ten years, there’s been a 54% increase in anti depressant prescriptions for the under-18s, with 24% of girls reporting depressive symptoms by age 14. Smartphone use is fuelling a record demand for sleeping pills for under-16s. In the past four years prescriptions have increased by 43% with children as young as 10 being the main users.
*SOURCES: Always study 2022, The Guardian 2019, NHS 2020, ONS 2019, Centre For Disease Control 2020, NHS Business Services Authority 2020, Children’s Society 2020, Article Fabulous
Girls are caught in a self-downward spiral. Jane decided that she could not remain passive any longer and had to support girls somehow to help them navigate through a more and more challenging environment.
Deprived areas in the North
Girls Out Loud operates in deprived areas of North Manchester, Cheshire and Lancaster, but plans to expand to the South in the future. Jane thinks it is in the interest of the business community to support her project. Girls Out Loud has one astonishing partner abroad: Dubai.
Here is a summary of Jane’s objectives:
“Her legacy, through Girls Out Loud is to embed a more empowering mind-set in girls that, in effect, inspires them to think big, reach for the stars and make better life choices. Central to the Girls Out Loud mission is to introduce girls to awesome, successful female role models through the Big Sister mentoring programme and motivational events.”
Girls Out Loud runs so called role model relay events which are:
“a dynamic, fast-paced event, lasting two hours and catering for up to 120 girls from the same year group. Our objective is to give the girls access to some awesome women role models, each one with an inspiring story to share. From Barristers to Broadcasters; Teachers to Train Drivers; Accountants to Acupuncturists; entrepreneurs to police officers; university professors to International Sports champions and beyond. The girls get to listen to their amazing journeys, then interact with them via a structured and supportive speed mentoring format.”
Girls Out Loud has numerous women ambassadors from various environments who act as role models and inspiration to lift girls’ self-confidence and support them in their aspirations:
Debbie Caswell – Joint Founder & Managing Director with The Talent Crowd Ltd. Debbie considers her key driver working with people, developing and building teams to succeed and deliver excellence.. She loves seeing people grow, develop and achieve their dreams!
Kat Moriarty – Detective Sergeant with Greater Manchester Police. Since 2020 Kat has been the Detective Sergeant in a Complex Safeguarding Team working with young people at risk of exploitation. The role is based alongside specialist health and social care professionals to support victims and to investigate the perpetrators.
Emma Gallagher – Senior Talent Acquisition Manager at BeyondTrust has been working in the world of recruitment for the last 15 years in a key role in growing high performing teams for companies in the eCommerce, Engineering and Cyber Security industries.
Marie Campbell – Customer Experience Manager at Direct Line Group, with over 20 years’ experience of working in the Insurance Industry. Without a privileged upbringing, Marie feels passionately about helping young children of today be the best that they can be, regardless of where their start
Stephanie Elswood – an online content creator, health and fitness advocate and professional dancer. She is the Director of body confidence workshops ‘Stay Sassy’, author of plant-based recipe e-books ‘Plant to Plate’ and founder of sustainable travel and homeware brand ‘Sasstainable’.
Jane has worked with 50+ secondary schools through early intervention programmes. This has impacted the lives over 20,000 12 – 16-year-old girls to date, by inspiring them to step up and shine. Her ‘Big Sister’ mentoring programme harnesses female role models to help empower teenage girls to believe in themselves and find their voices.
Girls Out Loud runs training programmes for women to become so called ‘big sisters’. See the website for testimonies by students and big sisters on the experiences on both sides.
From Georgina, Senior Manager at Coop Construction & Commercial:
“I found out about Girls Out Loud back in 2018 and began my journey as a Big Sister in 2019. I had seen Jane at a couple of the Role Model Relay events in schools and was just in absolute awe of her; I couldn’t wait to meet her properly at the Big Sister training session.
“When the training finally came around, I was not disappointed. Just Wow!, Jane was honest, open, genuine and empowering; her passion for women and young girls was inspirational to say the least! I spent the next 12 months mentoring my Little Sister and came out the other end a different woman. More “Jane” as I like to think!….
“If anyone is looking for a strong, relatable, knowledgeable and passionate woman to do a motivational talk, Jane is most certainly your woman!”
There has been a 56% increase in children excluded from school in the last three years. 78% of the excluded pupils have special needs and 63% re likely to end up in prison (Government 2019 statistics).
The overall aim of the Stardom special programme is to improve behaviour and concentration, to work on relationships, school attendance and attitude to learning:
“The focus is on aspirations not exams; causes not symptoms; action not reflection.”
Here is Amelia’s story.
THE SUPER 7
In 2018 Jane noticed some reoccurring themes appearing in work with teen girls. These themes matched the enquiries from school teachers so Girls Out Loud decided to create a series of workshops. They deal with:
- positive and negative sides of social media
- mindfulness to help with focus, teaching metrication and other tools
- body confidence to discover beauty and authenticity
- tools and tricks to overcome the fear of speaking up
- coping techniques to overcome anxiety, mood swing, panic attacks etc
- how to differentiate friendships and help with social media aggression or meddling
- How to make better decisions to get better outcomes
(And a bonus workshop to give support before exams.)
Increased pressures in the pandemic
During the pandemic, many vulnerable girls were exposed to increased instances of bullying, grooming, domestic violence and child abuse (reports rose 75%). With a cost of living crisis and increased government cuts, we need to protect girls in deprived areas now, before they fall through the cracks.
In summer 2023, Girls Loud Out is running a personal development, well being, and empowerment festival called Womanifest.
“This is no boring festival – it’s all about women and girls having fun, learning how to put themselves first, get what they want, surround themselves with other fantastic women and have access to a huge range of learning and expertise that can help them to make changes in their life and feel inspired and empowered.:”
Jane Kenyon & Jodes Salt are ‘on one’ in their brand new podcast. Have a listen here or subscribe on Apple or Spotify
If you want to find out more, or want to support Girls Out Loud, please connect with Jane
On Twitter: @divadomrocks