Collier County Sheriff’s Office and St. Matthew’s Program empowers girls

Published: March 16, 2021 6:24 PM EDT
Updated: March 16, 2021 6:27 PM EDT

A program put on by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and St. Matthew’s House has one goal.

The “You Can Do It all” program empowers fifth-grade school girls to “build self-confidence and poise” to help them transition to middle school. It began in 2019. Collier County deputies hope to expand it to help eighth-graders transition to high school.

On Tuesday, the session focused on the power of volunteering and basic cooking skills.

Melissa was one of the students participating in the program.

“I’ve learned CPR and other cool stuff and how to protect myself,” Melissa said.

Melissa and 14 other fifth-graders went to Lulu’s Kitchen at St. Matthew’s House to learn cooking skills.

Melissa said she was happy and nervous about moving on to middle school.

Lydia said she is nervous but excited as well.

Collier County Sgt. Karen Eggleston-Negron said she hopes these girls are more excited by the time the program finishes.

“Watching the girls when they walk in on day one to leaving day two and seeing the energy and the self-esteem that they’ve built in it and knowing that we have made a difference in their lives, I absolutely love it,” Eggleston-Negron said.

The girls love it too.

Lydia said she enjoyed others sharing their personal stories.

“I was kind of like, yeah, I can do this,” Lydia said.

Julissa said she enjoys the program because it made her feel good and it taught her how to protect herself.

And now, Melissa said, she is most afraid of bullies but she has a plan.

“I will stand up and be brave,” she said.