Metro program aims to equip at-risk girls with skills to become future leaders

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two metro women are building up girls to become leaders, not only in their communities, but in the world.

Cynthia Saddler and Laveeda Simmons have 40 years of combined experience as social workers. Their organization, GLOW, Inc., focuses specifically on at-risk girls.

“The only requirement that we have is that they want to be here,” Simmons said.

The women founded the organization, not to save girls, but to build them up. They do this by giving them the tools they will need to navigate the world.

“All girls are at risk for some type of negative behavior, be it drinking, physical violence, bullying, drugs or sex trafficking,” Saddler said.

They work with girls and young women between the ages of 5 and 24, providing life coaching, mentorship and exposing them to travel and cultural events.

“Many of our girls have not gone outside of Kansas City, ever,” Simmons said.

Their goal is that the girls and young women they work with grow up to become the leaders of tomorrow.

“We look at it as an investment. We invest in you,” Simmons said. “You’re going to invest in us, so that we can all go out and invest in the world.”

Shelly Lynn has three daughters ranging in age from 9 to 19, who are in the program. She said GLOW has kept her daughters grounded and focused on the future. Her eldest just started community college this fall.

“Bringing the girls here has made a big impact, and it does help a lot, and they can also connect with other children and tell their stories, if they have them, to maybe help someone else,” Lynn said.

Saddler and Simmons said they don’t just give to their girls, their girls also give to them.

“That’s what makes us yearn to continue to do more and more for them because they’re willing to try,” Simmons said.

Saddler and Simmons estimate they’ve helped more than 200 girls since starting GLOW a decade ago.

If you would like to volunteer or enroll your child in their program, click here.

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