When Warren Hance lost his three young daughters in a car accident, he vowed to pay homage to his children and honor their memories in a positive way. From that promise, the Beautiful Me program was born in 2009.
Aimed at young girls from 5 to college age, the program is designed to help them improve their confidence levels and self-esteem. Hance and his colleagues realized that women of all ages struggle with their self-perceptions – and the fight begins at an early age.
“We realized there’s a need, whether it’s the result of bullying or social media, to give girls the tools to help themselves with hot buttons issues,” Hance says. “Our hope is that we can reach girls at the right age to change the trajectory inside their heads a little bit.”
To reach girls, Beautiful Me’s all-female directors deliver one of three age-appropriate versions of the program in elementary, middle and high schools, and colleges. According to one director, Kate Duffy, participants learn about honesty and self-awareness, are taught how to accept compliments without deflecting them, and they’re given 250 adjectives to help describe their unique personalities and accomplishments.
Initially meant to help 50 girls, the program has grown to help 19,733 as of this February. For example, Hance and his colleagues recently ran the program with female college athletes and sorority members at St. John’s University. Even among such a talented pool of young women, Hance says, the impact was significant.
“We received testimonials of how the program changed their thought processes on many issues for the better,” he says. “It didn’t matter whether it was an eating disorder or social anxiety.”
In fact, the program has been so successful that Hance says he wants to expand it to Boston, Philadelphia, and portions of Florida within the next five years.