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NEWS RELEASE
Media Contact: Mona Tolbert
Office: 713-292-0361

Girl Scouts take stand against bullying with Be a Friend First Program

Olympic boxer Marlen Esparza to serve as guest speaker at May event

HOUSTON, Texas (April 17, 2013) – According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, 60 percent of middle school students witness bullying every day. Add the online world to the mix and about 85 percent of middle school students say they’ve been cyber-bullied at least once. Girl Scouts implemented a new series to give girls the power to change that. Be a Friend First (BFF) gives girls the tools they need to: feel safe in school, online and everywhere in between; build the confidence to deal with mean girls and cliques; and develop healthy, positive relationships. On Tuesdays and Saturdays from April 23-May 11, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council (GSSJC) will host a BFF event at First United Methodist Church on Fairmont Parkway in Pasadena with special guest Marlen Esparza.

“We want to give girls the confidence to change their environment by building better friendships, helping them navigate middle school and empowering them to be a part of the change that will make their environment better,” said Mary Vitek, GSSJC CEO. “Having Marlen attend our event to speak to girls about bullying is an honor, especially since she was bullied as a young girl and overcame challenges to become a role model for so many girls around the world.”

Marlen, who graduated in the top five percent of her class from Pasadena High School, qualified as the first U.S. Olympic female boxer in history becoming the first Olympic Team Trials winner (Flyweight) in the first year that women’s boxing became an Olympic event. Since then, she has been ranked number one in the U.S. for eight consecutive years, with her most recent win earned just this month.

Marlen was the subject of Soledad O’Brien’s 2011 CNN documentary In Her Corner: Latino in America 2 and was the subject of an extensive profile in the June 2012 issue of The Atlantic. She has endorsement deals with Nike and CoverGirl cosmetics, starred in commercials for Coca-Cola and McDonald’s and was featured in a print-campaign for PETA. Marlen is a former Girl Scout. She was also the victim of bullying. In grade school she was picked on for being chubby. Her experience left a negative impression on her and in seventh grade after shoving a classmate’s head into a chalkboard, she was transferred to an alternative school. That year, at the young age of 12, she discovered boxing.

GSSJC’s BFF series takes place on Tuesdays (4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.) and Saturdays (10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.) April 23-May 11 and costs just $15. Girls must attend all six session to have reserved seating to hear Marlen speak.

For more information on the BFF event, contact Myriam Hudson at mhudson@sjgs.org or 713-292-0287. Para Español 1-800-392-4340.

Girl Scouts of the USA is the world's preeminent organization for girls, with a membership of more than 3.2 million girls and adults. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Chartered by GSUSA to provide Girl Scouting locally, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is the second largest Girl Scout council in the country serving more than 70,000 girls and 19,000 adults in 26 southeast Texas counties.

Editor’s Note:

Olympic boxer Marlen Esparza will be the special guest speaker at Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council’s Be a Friend First (BFF) event on May 11 at First United Methodist Church on Fairmont Parkway in Pasadena. Girl Scouts of the USA launched BFF to give girls the tools they need to: feel safe in school, online and everywhere in between; build the confidence to deal with mean girls and cliques; and develop healthy, positive relationships.

GSSJC | Communications Department
3110 Southwest Freeway  Houston, TX 77098