Willows Academy welcomed Julie Larkin and Ana Bethencourt Yrasquin of GirlTalk in January 2023 as part of our Raising Great Girls series. GirlTalk hosts programs for women of all ages and life stages–middle and high school girls, college students, mothers, and professionals. GirlTalk offers a range of resources and programming to build a community of confident women who radiate their true value. The website provides a brief history of Girl Talk’s founding and history:
The organization’s mission aligned with needs and interests of the Willows community and the challenge of raising teenage girls today. Willows aims to form girls with a healthy self-worth: girls who know who they are and know their true value, or in other words, are aware of their identity and mission. In today’s world in particular, there is a quicksand of identity issues facing girls that attack girls’ self-confidence and inner peace. Mentors and parents face the challenge of helping girls ground their identity on the foundation of being a beloved daughter of God and recognize their own strengths and talents are meant to be multiplied and shared for the good of their families, friends and the larger society. In a survey last year, Willows students also expressed interest in addressing issues of self-worth in the context of increasing pressures to perform to meet academic and social expectations.
“The advantage of GirlTalk is that they are experienced in reaching both the teenage girls and the parent population, who have very different needs,” explains Angela Fortunato, Assistant Head of School.
Larkin and Yrasquin will host programs at the Willows for both students and parents. The student “coffeehouse” for Willows sophomores will focus on authenticity, friendship, and self-worth. The parent workshop is open to any and all parents and will focus on strengthening communication between parents and their teenage daughters.
“The greatest predictor of a teenager’s mental well-being is the quality of the relationship with his or her parents,” Larkin emphasizes. GirlTalk hopes to provide parents with insight into their daughter’s worldview. They will be discussing a teenager’s developmental place in the context of today’s world, mental health statistics, and provide practical steps to cultivating a healthy sense of self-worth in daughters.
Julie Larkin is the founder and executive director of Girl Talk, a 501(c)3 organization confronting the crisis of self-worth in women through sisterhood, self-discovery, and a soft place to land. Girl Talk inspires teens, professionals, and moms alike to recognize their inherent dignity and radiate their authentic identity. Julie received her B.A. in psychology from The Catholic University of America, her masters in business from The Busch School of Business, and is currently pursuing her masters in clinical mental health counseling from Wake Forest University. She hosts the Love, Girl Talk podcast, was featured on EWTN News Nightly, and speaks regularly on self-worth, entrepreneurship, and mental health. She is a certified practitioner in Motivational Code (MCODE) and coach for the DC Accelerator. Julie has spent the past decade encountering women of all ages and stages, learning their stories, and walking with them to grow in their understanding of self-worth. Her dream is for every woman to discover her inherent value and to live by it.
Ana Yrausquin is a mother, wife, certified life coach, and resident counselor at Sunstone Counseling where she offers online and in person counseling. Ana holds a B.A. in Psychology from the Catholic University of America and a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Wake Forest University. She is certified in the Gottmann method of couple’s counseling, she is an MCODE facilitator and is trained in Optimal Work. Her mission is to make mental health relatable and accessible to all. Ana’s writing has been published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Journal of Public Child Welfare, and Child Trends. She is an occasional contributor to How She Does It: The Professional Woman’s Guide to an Inspired, Intentional, Integrated Life.