By Hailey Persinger

Killeen Daily Herald

About 20 pre-teen girls learned Friday that make-up isn't necessary, eight hours of sleep is and that models rely on camera tricks for their impossibly perfect bodies.

But Joyce Hodges, a leader of the Girlversity program at Central Texas College, said the girls have learned more throughout the past month about accepting themselves than anything else.

Girlversity, a weekly class for girls 9 through 14 years old, ended Friday as the girls graduated from what could be considered a self-esteem boot camp. The class began as an offshoot of one

created for women that focused on self-reliance, self-esteem and self-love.

Stephanie Legree-Roberts, the program's founder, said that while leading the classes designed for women, she realized that much of the self-doubt adults feel is a product of experiences they had as teenagers.

Some people can change their thinking processes during adulthood but most older teenagers have already set their patterns and thoughts for life, Legree-Roberts said.

"If you get them younger, you can really affect them," she said.

Of the multitude of subjects covered during the monthlong course - professional skills, personal safety, health and wellness - Hodges said the self-image chapter was the most difficult but the most eye-opening.

After a conversation with the girls that focused on finding the uniqueness in themselves, embracing it and loving their own personalities, the group began to gel, she said.

At first, they were pretty quiet but look at them now, Hodges said as she watched the girls include everyone in their typical pre-teen chatter.

Girls can do everything men can do as long as they have the confidence to achieve it, Hodges said.

"Their dreams can come true."

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