Undergraduate develops program to teach young girls about healthy lifestyles

June 28, 2012
Camille McGirt was featured recently on the Carolina Center for Public Service website. The profile is reprinted below. McGirt, a rising senior, is a candidate for the Bachelor of Science in Public Health in health policy and management in May 2013.
 
Camille McGirt

Camille McGirt

For Robert E. Bryan Social Innovation Fellow Camille McGirt, engaging young girls in a healthy lifestyle is second nature. So it is no surprise that her Healthy Girls Save the World (HGSW) summer camp was overflowing with 50 young girls excited to learn how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives.

 
Through a Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship offered by the APPLES Service-Learning program, McGirt was able to grow HGSW, an organization she developed to provide the tools and knowledge for young girls to create and sustain a healthy and well-rounded lifestyle. HGSW also focuses on the importance of healthy eating habits, regular exercise and chronic obesity related illness prevention.
 
Kristen Bowen ’13, Jillian Griffith ’14 and Reena Gupta ’15 joined McGirt in planning for HGSW, which now offers free events through the community to girls ages 8 to 15.
 
“I love the program, its mission and the impact it is making on all of the girls that participate,” McGirt said.
 
Impact is what it is all about. McGirt has been busy for more than a year with HGSW, offering various activities to young girls in the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham area. So far, the organization has hosted self-defense classes and clinics with UNC’s women’s field hockey, basketball and soccer teams.
 
HGSW recently held its inaugural summer camp where for three days, 50 young girls engaged in a variety of activities including swimming, soccer, volleyball, nutrition and healthy behavior seminars, and self-esteem-building activities.
 
“The summer camp was three days of jam-packed activities,” McGirt said. “We pride ourselves in providing free events for our participants. Many of our girls have never set foot on a college campus and at an age of 8 or 15 years old, we’re allowing girls to actualize going to college and exposing them to athletes and speakers that will help them learn about sports and nutrition and even build self-confidence. Over the course of the three days, our girls learned so much and fell in love with UNC’s campus. One of the parents called our summer experience ‘life changing.’”
 
McGirt’s passion for healthful living also could be found in the participants. “I think it is great that we were able to get together and talk in small groups and learn new things and how to do things better,” said one camp attendee, named Olivia, after three days of activities.
 
“It might be a lot, but it is not impossible to do, and it’s important,” she added.
 
The Robert E. Bryan Social Innovation Fellowships are designed for aspiring social change makers who are interested in making a significant contribution locally, nationally or internationally through the development of an entrepreneurial project that addresses a community issue or need. McGirt and her team are doing exactly that with Healthy Girls Save the World.
 
“I LOVE HGSW and I want to see it sustain at UNC – to grow and expand into a powerful program. We are making a lasting impact in this community,” McGirt said.
 
“If we can inspire these girls to play sports, do well in school, create noble relationships, and eat right, then we’re successful.”

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UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Linda Kastleman, communications editor, (919) 966-8317 or linda_kastleman@unc.edu.