Middle school. Who likes middle school? Words can be hurtful, you feel like nobody gets you, and all you want to do is “fit in.” Wait. You mean there is someone other than you that feels the same way? The answer is yes. You are not alone. As a matter of fact, this is how our story starts. It’s about a young girl who, at times, felt left out when she was in middle school. As middle school came and went, things started to shape up and high school was a lot easier. After talking with friends about middle school, the young girl realized that even though she felt like she was the only one - she wasn’t alone. She realized this was a problem that affected EVERY girl at some point in their middle school life, and this is how Girl Talk was born.
At 15 years old, Albany, GA native Haley Kilpatrick wanted to make a difference. The idea was a program that would help girls to get through their challenging middle school years, with the help of high school girls. She thought that she could do this cost efficiently by using space in her school before and after school, using trained school employees as her advisors (teachers and guidance counselors), and creating a leadership opportunity for high school girls by mentoring their younger peers. It is a fact that middle school girls look up to high school girls, but high school girls aren’t always the best role models.
Haley thought that she could create a peer-to-peer mentoring program that would inspire high school girls to become positive role models to their younger peers. This would allow middle school girls to hear the right messages from the high school girls (in partnership with teachers, coaches, and guidance counselors) whom they are influenced by. She believed that if young girls were taken care of, emotionally, then they would excel academically.
After pitching her idea to the headmaster and guidance counselor at her school, Haley was set to begin Girl Talk in the fall of 2002. Haley would meet for one hour, once a week, with interested middle school girls, and they would tackle issues and problems the girls faced on a daily basis. Haley even provided the girls with an anonymous question box where they could leave questions and concerns that they wanted to discuss in future meetings. Her community witnessed the program as it slowly spread across Georgia and then across the Southeast. Haley then invested her college savings into Girl Talk and created the Girl Talk Handbook. Before Girl Talk had a website, if high school girls wanted to start a Girl Talk Chapter, she would print and mail a copy of the Handbook to them.
It wasn’t long before she realized she was truly onto something and needed help. Haley asked Atlanta’s Brown Bag Marketing for assistance in building a Web site. She envisioned a “Virtual Headquarters” and Brown Bag Marketing made this dream a reality at no cost to the organization. In 2005, she set big goals. Haley wanted to see Girl Talk in all 50 states by 2010, graduate college in 4 years, and inspire a minimum of 100 Chapters per year.
Today Girl Talk is one of the fastest growing mentoring programs in the country, has been in 48 states, and has reached more than 60,000 girls. Girl Talk is a 501(c)3 national nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia. As Girl Talk continues to grow, it has been featured nationally on CNN, ABC, The Today Show, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, TBS, Hallmark Channel, CosmoGirl! Magazine, and American Eagle Outfitters stores, just to name a few.
Haley is very proud to have had such incredible success with a very limited budget. She wants to extend a thank you to Albany and Atlanta businesses and families who believed in her as a teenager and encouraged her to make her dream a reality. When asked if she is proud, she replies, “Are you kidding me? We are just scratching the surface! I’m humbled that 60,000 girls have been reached each week, but there are millions more that we want to inspire. I’ve got to get back to work.” Haley graduated from college with a degree in Communications in December 2007, and works full time as Girl Talk’s Founder. She’s currently working hard to develop a fundraising campaign to help take Girl Talk to the next level and begin to staff this amazing organization with the right people to help her get there. If you or anyone you know would like to make a tax-deductible gift to Girl Talk, please click “Donate Now” (to the right of this page).
Girl Talk and our resources are 100% free. The approved high school Chapter Leaders and adult Advisors log in to a password protected section of the Web site where they can download Leader Lessons, upload Chapter pictures, get useful tips from other Leaders, apply for Girl Talk Scholarships and Awards, and much more. We truly feel that this is only the beginning, and with support from people like you we know we will reach our goals.