After a career ending injury to her college basketball career, Camille McGirt took a gap-year and interned at the White House in fall of 2010. Inspired through volunteer opportunities with Michelle Obama's Let's Move Campaign, Camille and her sister Rachel started Healthy Girls Save The World on August 8th, 2011 in Durham, NC.
Camille & Rachel are a diverse set of team-oriented leaders who are working on transformational change while actively encompassing respect and humility for those who they work with and serve. Camille has a background in healthcare consulting and is a 2017 graduate of the Health Behavior MPH program in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and a full-time MBA student at Harvard Business School. Rachel is a 2016 Teach for America Corps member and graduate of the Teacher Education and Curriculum Masters program at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Their merged public health and education skill sets make them a great team to do this work. Camille understands and applies the components of health disparities, evidence based interventions, health behavior theory, program evaluation and business development to HGSW. Rachel understands and applies the factors of social determinants, culturally responsive pedagogy, curriculum development, classroom management, and academic achievement measures to HGSW.
As an intervention that has the opportunity to narrow gaps in both health outcome and educational achievement gaps, they are a team that brings both sides of expertise, knowledge and experience to the table. In addition to Camille being a graduate student, she has also worked in a low-resourced public school, South Shore High School in Brooklyn, and like Rachel, she has heard the stories and seen first-hand the integration of how the determinants of neighborhood location, socio-economic status (SES), parent education levels, and race influence a child’s life and outlook. Camille & Rachel are best suited for their work and bring unprecedented acumen and experience.
The obesity epidemic has placed significant disease burden on girls, particularly minority girls, as the 2010-2011 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported that 42.5% of African American (AA) girls ages 12-19 qualified as overweight or obese. More broadly, when reviewing health and health care disparities in the African American community, the data are striking. There have been improvements in health outcomes for communities of color, but blacks still often have higher rates of chronic disease and mortality than other racial subsets. More work must be done to achieve health equity.
Maintaining a healthy mind is equally important as a healthy body. HGSW facilitates an atmosphere for young girls to examine situations they encounter at school, home, and public institutions. Our programs engage in meaningful discussion and group activities to promote confidence and self-esteem. Girls are also encouraged to break away from societal structures and predetermined ideas of the role of the girl in today’s society.
Childhood obesity has been a public health challenge for decades. Childhood obesity has several negative physical and mental health implications, such as diabetes, depressive symptoms, and heart disease (etc.). HGSW shows young girls that exercising and practicing a healthy diet are not only essential, but fun too. Each HGSW program is designed to provide knowledge on proper nutrition, sustainable living, and exposure to physical activity.
There are several studies on biological processes that show the link between relationships and health. Having strong relationships can help to boost self-esteem and reduce stress & personal insecurities. Empowering girls to have healthy relationships will result in increased self-confidence, and provide them with the abilities to succeed in areas they otherwise might not have seen possible.
Disparities in both health and academic achievement stem from social determinants the same social determinants of race, socioeconomic status, neighborhood location, gender, and further social stratifications. Low-income, African American girls are at an unequivocal disadvantage to perform well in school and to complete college. The 2010-2011 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported that 42.5% of African American (AA) girls ages 12-19 qualified as overweight or obese and according to the National College Board, only 5.2% of African American girls (K-12) are considered academically gifted compared to 35% of Caucasian girls.
Research shows that taking a multi-disciplinary approach that transcends multiple levels of the socio-ecological framework may be most efficacious to help close the achievement gap. Healthy Girls Save the World (HGSW) believes that if girls are healthy, put in an environment with strong role-models, have high self-efficacy to make holistic healthful choices and are equipped with high self-esteem then they will be in a position to perform well in school and to go to college. HGSW provides opportunity for African American middle school girls from low-income families (AAMSG), to participate in high-quality, organized physical activity and health/wellness programs, and is a step in the right direction for sustainable obesity/overweight reduction and better education performance in AAMSG.