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      Take Charge to combat bullying

      A 6th grader at Baldwin Intermediate described bullying as a big problem.

      Ninety-seven girls are in the Take Charge program, which combats bullying and encourages healthy relationships. Quanada, Baldwin Intermediate School, and the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois are all part of the program aimed at helping young girls gain the confidence to stand up for themselves.

      When Kayla Walker started the program three years ago, she said she was the target of bullying at school.

      "It helps out a lot because then you can relate to somebody, and somebody knows what you're going through," Walker said.

      Since she's started going to Take Charge, Kayla has been able to help other girls deal with situations where they were bullied. A big part of the the program is letting the girls decide what problems need discussed.

      "We really want this to be a girl-led group, so by giving them the power to talk about the topics they want to talk about, it gives them the control. Then they can trust us knowing that we're not telling them things, they're learning it because it's what they want to learn," Girl Scout Program Specialist Jessica Foster said.

      Through videos, role playing, and discussion, these girls shape their ideas about friendship and confidence. Quanada is also part of the program, teaching girls healthy ways to resolve difficult situations as they get older.

      "This program is fantastic because it is targeting girls at a very crucial time in their development, and it's just really important for them to have this information so they can create those strong relationships, those healthy relationships so that as they grow and as they mature they can take those messages on," JJ Magliocco, a Violence Prevention Educator with Quanada said.

      For now, Take Charge has helped Kayla with a topic that comes up a lot at weekly meetings.

      "A lot about bullying just because it's a big problem here at Baldwin. I know i've been bullied so it's a lot of help talking about bullying how to deal with it," Walker said.

      Now that the program has been in affect for a few years, more girls at the school are prepared to deal with bullying.