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Self-esteem building program for girls starts May 11 in Wadena

BIO Girls uses life-skills lessons, positive mentorship and noncompetitive physical activity to increase self-esteem in second to sixth grade girls.

A group poses for a photo while making heart shapes with their hands.
A Perham BIO Girls mentor poses with her group at the Fun Run on June 5, 2021.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
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WADENA — Beautiful inside and out. That is what BIO Girls is aiming to help girls believe they are.

BIO Girls is a 12-session program, started in Fargo, which stems from the uphill battle adolescent girls face with low self-esteem. The program is volunteer-led, including new leaders Shelby Hunke and Monica Merickel in Wadena. The program has over 70 locations across the Midwest.

Isolation, social comparison, physical appearance and perfectionism have led to staggering statistics for girls everywhere, according to a BIO Girls news release. When self-esteem is low, girls avoid failure at all costs, seek external validation and give up things they love. Girls are taught to embody perfectionistic tendencies that can ultimately lead to depression and anxiety. There is also a 75% chance girls with low self-esteem will engage in destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, eating disorders, sexual relationships, poor academic performance and self-harm or suicide, according to the release.

Sixty-two percent of adolescent girls struggle with the effects of low self-esteem. This is where BIO Girls comes in.

With a mission to improve self-esteem in adolescent girls through empowerment of self and service to others, BIO Girls uses life-skills lessons, positive mentorship and noncompetitive physical activity to increase self-esteem in second to sixth grade girls. Across the Midwest, the BIO Girls program reaches roughly 2,500 girls yearly, with seven in 10 girls reporting a significant increase in self-esteem, according to the release.


The Wadena program starts on Wednesday, May 11 from 5:30-7 p.m. The meetings are on Wednesday nights through July 27 at the Maslowski Wellness Center. The finale "Fun Run" is July 20. Registration is open at biogirls.org/register.

Shelby Hunke and Monica Merickel are leading the program. Hunke is a registered dietitian and diabetes educator at Tri-County Health Care. Shelby and her husband, Paul, grew up in Wadena and they have three children. They enjoy time at the lake, fishing and Shelby is an avid runner.

Merickel is the director of marketing at Pemberton Law Firm. Monica and her husband, Jason, enjoy family time outdoors with their two children. In her downtime, she enjoys reading, volunteering with her kid's activities and running.

Local women, such as Katie Alba, Molly Tabery and Katie Polman, will also serve as program mentors.

“We want all girls to feel good about themselves and create bonds with their peers,” the news release stated.

The BIO Girls Wadena program is also on Facebook.

BIO Girls logo.jpg
BIO Girls is a 12-session self-esteem building program for girls in second to sixth grade.
Contributed / BIO Girls

Related Topics: WADENAHEALTH
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