A regular at our Girls Inc. events and programs, 13 year old Newburyport resident, Fiona Dunphy knows what it means to grow up “strong smart and bold”.  As a fifth grade student at the Molin School in Newburyport, Fiona was first introduced to Girls Inc. of the Seacoast Area when she participated in the “Strong, Smart, Bold Program”. During this program, Fiona learned what it takes to start a business and be a female entrepreneur and also learned basic self-defense skills. With a peaked interest in the program, Fiona then participated in the Media Literacy Program as a sixth grade student and has attended all three of our Girls Rock Events.

With the core Girls Inc. values under her belt, Fiona decided to stretch her wings this past fall and take the trip of a lifetime. As a 7th grade student, Fiona was the youngest member of a group of students that traveled to Africa as part of service trip run by Newburyport Youth Services. The group spent time in Kenya at a Girls Rescue Center, which aids in the safety of young girls and women who are at high risk of genital mutilation. While at the Rescue Center, the group built eco-friendly fences, planted vegetables for the residents and took part in local cultural events. Along with their time at the Rescue Center, the group also visited Massai villages where they taught villagers about water filtration and stayed at Amboseli National Park

Feeling “strong” and confident during the trip, Fiona volunteered to speak in front of a Maasai village about the importance of water filtration. Fiona comments, “Girls Inc. taught me lessons about being a leader by not being afraid to put yourself out there. I showed confidence and leaderships skills in Kenya when I volunteered to do a water filtration talk to the members of the Maasai Villages.”

Fiona admits she was nervous about traveling half-way across the world at only 13, but says that Girls Inc. actually helped her prepare for her adventure. “I have learned how to stand up for myself and step outside my comfort zone through Girls Inc. I was nervous right before I said good-bye to my mom and as we were boarding the plane. But I conquered my fears by reminding myself that I was going to have fun, see new things and I would be home in just over a week”

With a week full of unforgettable experiences, it is hard to pick just one favorite, but Fiona shared a few highlights from her trip, “I loved everything about the trip! One thing in particular was meeting girls my age who come from totally different backgrounds and becoming really good friends with them and working with them and helping them. I also enjoyed seeing all the animals in Kenya. One morning I saw a mom and baby elephant outside our window at Amboseli National Park!”

With past experiences that have built a strong foundation, the future seems bright for our Girls Inc. All-Star! Fiona says, “I don’t really know what I want to do when I grow up. I might want to be a nurse that delivers babies. And a world traveler!”