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Mainely Girls teaches girls how to advocate for themselves

Published: Jun. 11, 2021 at 3:17 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Mainely Girls was created by and for girls in Aroostook County.

“That’s what I feel the heart of when Mary O’Rear started Mainely Girls 25 years ago, the heart of what she was trying to capture is how is it that we can teach girls to advocate for themselves because it’s our girls’ voices that are going to lead them forward,” said Holli Nicknair.

Mainely Girls was created in Camden 25 years ago by an English teacher.  In recent years, the organization moved to the County under Board Chair, Carol Ayoob.

“Mary said please take it with you to Aroostook,” said Ayoob.

Now they are settling in at the Aroostook Central Mall, to continue their mission, offering experiences to girls that they might not have otherwise.

“We took them to the ocean and I had a couple of girls there who had never seen the ocean so I think that kind of trip is very important,” said Ayoob.

But it’s also about connecting them with other girls around Maine, and providing them with a network.

“We’ve got some beautiful territory and it spans miles, so how do we stay connected?” asked Nicknair. “It’s our girls and our county girls who are going to change the world...so if we can give them tools and ability to express themselves while feeling connected and supported by teens in their community, what else better could we do?”

“One of the things that I’ve seen challenging with county girls is a real sense of classism, really isolated,” said Ayoob. “That’s where we’d like to move beyond surviving and just teach in conversation that being yourself is good enough and maybe look at getting out of that poverty.”

And all are welcome at Mainely Girls.

“We’ve met so many parents who have approached us with ‘are you a welcoming organization?’,” said Ayoob.

“And therefore we welcome all people that self identify as a girl and anyone who identifies as nonbinary, or any person who wants to connect with the feminine aspect of themselves,” said Nicknair.

This year, Mainely Girls received a grant from the onion foundation, so in their free Summer program, Middle and High school members will be taught a new art medium by a new artist every week. Alongside their programming, they offer open mics and improv shows for anyone interested.

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