Brunson-Dargan program builds “Girls of Character”

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

The message of girl power gets a signal boost every time the young ladies from Brunson-Dargan Elementary School’s “Girls of Character” group gets together. These hand-picked students meet weekly for chat sessions where they interact with local leaders, learning and laughing their way to stronger self-esteem and socialization.

“These girls were chosen for their leadership ability and the fact that they want to go even higher with their levels of responsibility,” says GoC organizer Kim Nelson of the Darlington Police Department. “We’re trying to help them build character and spread positivity.”

Meetings are usually structured around a theme or a guest appearance by a man who works in a position of responsibility in the Darlington County community. Nelson says she opted to focus on male guest speakers to prove to the girls that they should matter to the men in their lives, that good men should care about their opinions and want them to be strong, happy, and successful.

“These are men who have accomplished great things and have influence in the community, and I wanted the girls to see that these men who come to speak with them care about them and expect great things from them,” says Nelson.

The guest speaker roster includes 4th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Kernard Redmond, Darlington Police Chief Danny Watson, and Darlington County Adult Education director Chuck Miller, who performed a spellbinding magic show and encouraged the girls to explore careers and hobbies (like magic) that are traditionally dominated by males.

In regular sessions, Nelson says the Girls of Character learn about conflict resolution, how to avoid escalating disagreements, and how to keep their chins up during troubled moments. By encouraging the girls to figuratively “raise their shields” – a reaction accompanied by a physical gesture that recalls Wonder Woman crossing her gauntlets – they learn to let negativity bounce away harmlessly and go about their day with a positive attitude.

Nelson says the lessons of generosity and kindness learned by the girls were readily evident when she recently asked them whether they want to allow new kids to join their group. Instead of fearing new people disrupting their established routine, the Girls of Character lived up to their name and voted to allow the class to expand and welcome new additions.

“They said they wanted other girls to learn to have character and experience what they are experiencing,” says Nelson.

As a sign of their membership, each Girl of Character receives her own cape, handmade by Nelson, emblazoned with the “GoC” logo. Guest speakers also receive a souvenir cape as a reminder of the continuing mission to imbue young ladies with the confidence, strength, and character to live their lives as the heroes of their own stories.

To learn more about helping out or speaking with Girls of Character, contact Kim Nelson at the Darlington Police Department, 843- 398-4026.

Author: Duane Childers

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