BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater resident Sue Cornet, a certified teacher, was looking to find a way to empower girls to make healthy choices – so, by working with the township recreation department, she helped bring Girls Empowerment through Mindfulness to Bridgewater.

The program is supported through the Bridgewater-Raritan Municipal Alliance, and it was funded by grants that will also support the program again in spring 2019, Cornet said.

“The program was brought to Bridgewater because I am a resident and wanted it to be available to girls who live locally,” she said. “I hope to be able to expand it to residents outside of Bridgewater in the future.”

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Cornet said she decided to pilot the program especially after seeing her four daughters endure the tough years of seventh and eighth grades.

“As a mom and educator, I really felt the need to help reduce stress girls have, especially right before middle school,” she said. “So many changes are occurring, physically, socially and mentally, and I found that it is crucial to give girls ways to reduce stress through mindfulness tactics.”

“The goal is to ultimately help shape strong, confident young women and give them tools for empowerment,” she added.

Cornet said she brought it to the recreation department, which introduced her to the Bridgewater-Raritan Municipal Alliance.

The program, Cornet said, has three major parts, namely yoga for the mind, meditation for the soul and exercise for the body. It is for girls ages 11 and 12, grades five and six.

“By strengthening these parts, the girls will grow stronger and more confident as they begin middle school,” she said.

Cornet said the girls were responsive to the program from the very beginning.

“Kids are so open to new ideas and willing to try something different,” she said. “I was very surprised at how much they already knew about yoga and how quiet they could all get during a meditation session.”

In addition, Cornet said, it was nice to see friendships developing among the girls.

“They got involved by signing up using the recreation website,” she said. “The original plan was to accept only 20 girls, but it was too hard to say no so we wound up having 30 girls in the program and six girls on the waiting list.”

Cornet said she watched them running the track, doing lesson activities and learning yoga, and they all developed a closeness.

“They were all pretty great girls before the program, but what was nice was seeing friendships develop,” she said. “They were a very open and inclusive group. It was great to see them learn that they can count on each other for help and encouragement.”

Cornet said the main goal of the program is empowerment.

“It is to empower them to make healthy life choices about alcohol, drugs and social issues, and to know they can count on each other when things get tough,” she said.

With this year’s program over, Cornet said, they are looking ahead to 2019.

“Right now we have the funding from the Bridgewater-Raritan Municipal Alliance to fund the program again in the spring of 2019,” she said. “I am currently starting the first phase of having Girls Empowerment through Mindfulness become a non-profit so we can get the program out to as many girls as possible.”

This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of The BReeze, out now!