When it comes to the health and livelihood of girls, West Virginia is trailing behind. According to a new study by the Girl Scouts Research Institute, West Virginia ranks 38th in the nation for girls’ well-being.
“The lower ranking certainly concerns all of us in the state of West Virginia, but I think once you read it and understand where we need to go, we get to the heart of what the issues are,” said Debra Hart, Director of Equity Programs and Title IX Coordinator at Marshall University.
The Girl Scouts Black Diamond Council discussed the first-of-its-kind research, titled State of Girls, with other women professionals at Marshall Wednesday. A panel discussed some of the biggest concerns revealed by the study, including more girls falling behind in education. According to the study, 67% of fourth-grade girls are not proficient in reading, and 79% of eighth-grade girls are not proficient in math.
Nationwide, girls are struggling with emotional and physical health, with 28% of girls (ages 10-17) overweight or obese, and 38% (ages 6-17) exercising less than four days per week.
“You can’t really be successful at anything else if you don’t feel good about yourself and if you’re not physically strong,” said Beth Casey, CEO of Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council.
The issues have sparked discussion, though. Women on the panel discussed possible solutions, including getting more girls involved with activities outside of school, connecting them with mentors, and providing them with opportunities to see the outside world.
“We keep saying that the data is not our destiny and that we want to be better than that, and we can be,” said Casey. “We’re committed to making a difference in girls’ lives.”
One of the positive aspects that the study found in West Virginia is the number of girls dropping out of high school has decreased from six percent in 2007 to two percent last year.