Central New York, Community, Education, Non-profit, Syracuse

Intervening Early to Empower Women Later

YWCA Syracuse empowering girls to pursue careers in male-dominated fields (c) 2017 Tommy Farrell

By Tommy Farrell SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – YWCA of Syracuse and Onondaga County Inc. hosted its annual Spirit of American Women on October 17th event in hopes to raise money for YWCA programs.

12% of the women workforce are in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). Liz Wierbinski, Program & Development Director at YWCA Syracuse, said girls face a lot of barriers in certain job types, according to the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey

“It’s really increasing access to career paths that they might not be exposed to until later on in life,” Wierbinski said. “If we’re intervening early they’ll be better able to make those decisions earlier on.”

Rebecca Kassis and Savannah Hefner are in 8th grade and 9th grade, respectively, and won the 2017 Dream Builder Competition for “Most Reliable Product.” Kassis and Hefner created an umbrella that protects your entire body from getting wet, beating out over 200 competitors.

“The modification of the umbrella took two, three, maybe four weeks,” Hefner said. “The next step would be adding colors and different designs to it.”

Kassis said when she grows up she wants to be an engineer.

“I like working with my hands,” Kassis said. “Seeing things that come off of paper come to life is cool to see the progress I made.”

YWCA Syracuse oversees and hosts the Girls Inc. After School Program. The program’s coordinator, Luz Encarnacion, believes homework is taking away quality time between parents and their children.

“They come home and they have to do a load of work,” Encarnacion said. “So, the first component of the program is assigned to help with their homework.”

Girls receive more than just an education in the after school program. They also learn to value natural beauty more than what they see on social media.

“Here, we teach them that being natural is important,” Encarnacion said. “Having family values is important.”

The Girls Inc. After School Programs runs throughout the school year Monday through Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Each day is a different lesson plan and include areas in:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Math
  • Yoga
  • Art
  • Sports
  • Music

Starting October 24th, the program will receive warm meals for the girls from the Food Bank of Central New York.

Encarnacion teaching her students chemistry (c) 2017 Tommy Farrell