PLAISTOW — Some eighth-grade girls at Timberlane Regional Middle School are on a real power trip — and that’s a good thing.
The students are members of Sister Power, an after-school group designed to build self-esteem and self-confidence.
It’s the brainchild of Myra Hogan, a physical education and health teacher, and she’s happy with the results.
For several years, Hogan said, she didn’t like what she was seeing from some middle-school girls — bullying, a lack of respect for one another and sagging self-esteem.
This year, she decided to do something about it. She started Sister Power to help the girls build their confidence as they approach high school.
“As girls go up to the high school, we have needed to work on self-esteem and self-confidence,” Hogan said. “They’re at the top of the eighth grade now, but they will be at the bottom of the heap next year. The transition is kind of scary.”
The group meets once a week in a roundtable format. Hogan usually has a topic to get a discussion started and the conversation evolves from there.
“We do a lot of talking and just activities to build self-esteem,” she said. “We eat, we laugh and we have fun.”
The group started in November, and Hogan and some of the girls report a noticeable improvement in its members’ self-esteem.
“There is an image of girls in commercials that every girl is supposed to want to be,” said Veronica Galimberti, an eighth-grader from Plaistow. “We have learned to not be blinded by that; we all get together and see beyond that. We build up confidence not because of what society wants us to be, but who we truly are.”
The girls tackle a range of topics. They do meditation exercises to help relieve stress. They discuss their changing bodies. Sometimes, they even talk about things like putting on makeup.