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Foundation helps build self-compassion


ASU alumna Carrie Severson devoted her life to help girls build self-compassion when she created the Severson Sisters Foundation in June 2011.

The foundation focuses on helping young girls who were victims of bullying emphasize positive energy instead of dwelling on the negative aspects, Severson said.

“Any girl involved in an extracurricular generally gains a higher self-esteem,” Severson said. “The goal of the program is to help girls figure out a way to deal with bullying through creative arts.”

Severson battled self-esteem issues as a girl and said this outreach program helps fulfill her dream of helping other young girls handle real-life situations.

Severson Sisters Foundation partners with Girl Scouts and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona to support 8- to 14- year-old girls.

Terri Waibel, a bilingual program specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, said her group partnered with the foundation Saturday to host an event for the girls.

Waibel said she feels Severson’s foundation would make a great permanent fit for the Super Sisters program.

The Super Sisters program is a collaborative effort between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona and Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale. The program is designed to help young girls avoid making bad decisions.

“What Carrie has done is just incredible,” Waibel said.

Severson teaches arts to help the girls express themselves through creative outlets.

Dance, crafts, cookbooks, cards and other artistic tools are used to help the girls cope and talk about adversities.

Creative expressions encourage the girls to open up, and the girls are subtly asked questions about bullying and issues they face daily. Along with tools such as Super Girl Kits and Power Word Documents, the girls are given concrete ways to address conflicts.

The Super Girl Kits encourage peer support and self-confidence by providing tips to address bullying. The kits can be purchased for $50 online, and each kit can be customized for the individual girl.

Power Word Documents are another tool used to reach out to the girls. The document lists 50 adjectives, and the girls are told to circle the words that they feel describe themselves. They then are encouraged to write the actions they do to achieve each word.

This exercise helps the girls focus on positive thinking, Severson said.

Eventually, Severson said she wants to hold public workshops for the girls to attend. She also plans on holding a summer camp this year.

A survey conducted by volunteers concluded that 96 percent of girls enrolled finished the program feeling better about themselves and their incidents with bullying.

Severson said her journalism degree from ASU and her background in magazines, newspapers and marketing has helped her program.

“The writing skills I left college with has become a major asset,” Severson said.

Severson said she hopes to partner with women’s groups at ASU, and she is always looking for more volunteers.

Group facilitator Shirley Barna engages with the girls to help them discover self-compassion.

She said it is vital to gain community support for this nonprofit program so it can sustain and become even more successful.

“There are so many young girls in our community that could benefit from this program,” Barna said in an email.


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