Girl Talk Volunteer Information Session: November 13th at 2 p.m.

By popular demand, we are hosting a second information session for potential Girl Talk program facilitators.  Please join the Girl Talk Leadership Team on Saturday November 13th from 2 to 4 p.m. at Project NIA’s Community Peace Room, 7035 N. Clark Street, Suite 2S.

Unfortunately our space can only accommodate 25 people.  Please RSVP to

We hope to see you on the 13th!



Art on the Inside: Incarcerated Girls Share Their Stories

In August 2010, as part of a partnership between Project NIA and the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, young women at the JTDC participated in a comic arts workshop led by teaching artist Elgin Smith.  The pieces that were created by the youth will be compiled as part of a zine about juvenile justice.   That zine will be released in Spring 2011.  In the meantime, we wanted to share one piece that was created by one of the young women.

Bill of Health Rights for Incarcerated Girls

Bill of Health Rights for Incarcerated Girls

Through a partnership between Health and Medicine Policy Research Group and Girl Talk, this document was created in 2005 by both girls in and recently released from detention.

A right is defined as something that all people deserve, simply because they are human beings.  This bill of rights was created by young women who are or have been incarcerated in Cook County’s Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.  These are rights that all young women deserve, regardless of their involvement with the juvenile justice system.

  1. Family Contact. We believe girls should be able to see their children more than once a week and without a judge’s special permission.  Girls should be allowed to see their immediate family members regardless of age.
  2. Accurate Information. We believe girls should have access to information about their health records and their court case details.
  3. Personal Privacy and Confidentiality. We believe girls have a right to privacy that includes their personal information as well as their bodies and personal space.
  4. Food, Water, and Exercise. We believe girls should have access to nutritious food, sufficient water, and daily exercise.
  5. Proper Hygiene. We believe girls should have more time to bathe, quality bathing products, as well as clean clothes and towels more often.
  6. Adequate & respectful mental health care.  We believe girls should have access to counseling services for their mental health.
  7. Another Chance. We believe girls have the right not to be treated as criminals upon their release from detention and to be connected with community resources prior to release.
  8. Medical care. We believe girls have a right to receive medical attention and medicine when they are ill.
  9. Gender-specific care. We believe young women struggle with issues that are specifically related to their experience as girls, and deserve support in doing so from people who understand those issues.
  10. Freedom from discrimination and verbal & physical abuse. We believe girls have a right to be respected by both staff and peers.

You can download the 2005 Health Bill of Rights of Incarcerated Girls.



In 39 States, Girls in the Juvenile Justice System are Being “Offered” HPV Vaccines

I just read a troubling article about the fact that young women in 39 states are being “offered” the HPV vaccines through the juvenile justice system.

SaneVax reports:

Under the guise of “protecting high-risk girls,” HPV vaccinations are being ‘offered’ to girls within the juvenile justice system. On the surface, this sounds like a laudable goal.

In the United States, informed consent for medical services is supposed to be a right we all enjoy. The SaneVax Team believes the advertising campaigns run by the manufacturers of HPV vaccines do little to promote the notion of informed consent, and ‘offering’ a vaccine to girls who probably believe their future within the juvenile justice system depends on their decision is not exactly the epitome of the concept of ‘informed consent.’

According to an article in Science Daily, “… most states that offer the HPV vaccine, the state or facility superintendent is authorized to consent for vaccination with the adolescent’s agreement. Other states initially seek out or require some form of parental consent in order to administer the vaccine.” (visit … for details)

I am uneasy whenever the state becomes involved in health decisions.  Young women in custody are under the full control of the state.  I am deeply troubled by this notion: “most states that offer the HPV vaccine, the state or facility superintendent is authorized to consent for vaccination with the adolescent’s agreement.”   Why would the young woman refuse if she is being asked by the state to take the vaccine?  The power imbalance here precludes any idea of free will.

The team at SaneVax asks a series of important questions about this issue:

The SaneVax Team wants to know if these girls are told that most HPV infections clear on their own without medical intervention. We want to know if these ‘high-risk’ girls are being told that the rate of cervical cancer in the United States is only 8.1/100,000?  We want to know if these girls are fully informed about the potential side effects of HPV vaccinations. We want to know whether these girls are offered the already proven safe and effective method of detecting pre-cancerous lesions, Pap smears.

The Young Women’s Empowerment Project partnered with the Committee on Women, Population and the Environment to put out a  Statement on Gardasil that is an essential read.  It directly relates to the topic at hand.

Girl Talk Officially Kicks Off!

Today nearly 40 women gathered at Depaul University for an information session for potential Girl Talk program facilitators.  We watched the powerful documentary “Girl Trouble” and heard from members of the leadership team as well as Girl Talk advisor Dr. Laurie Schaffner.  We were also pleased to be joined by Mykel Selph, the director of gender responsive programming at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC).

We are so excited to begin our work with the young women at JTDC in the coming weeks.

Potential Girl Talk Program Facilitators (10/2/10)

Please complete the JTDC Volunteer Application by October 17th…

Thanks to everyone who attended the program facilitator information session today.  For those of you who are planning to join Girl Talk as program facilitators, as you know, you will have to undergo a background check in order to work inside the facility.  Remember that only those who attended today’s information session can participate as potential program facilitators.

OK so we thought that this would be easy but it is not.  We have a two step process for completing the JTDC application.

First you can click HERE to download and complete the FIRST part of the application which is the volunteer application. 

Next attached is a PDF of the application which includes the BACKGROUND CHECK REQUEST FORMS — You will need to complete that by hand unfortunately.  You DO NOT need to complete the volunteer application part a second time.  However if you would like and it would be easier for you, you can complete BOTH by hand.  Click HERE to download that information.  Again if you want to make life easier on yourselves you will just complete the PDF version by hand and mail that entire packet to us.

Because we now have to complete TWO parts of an application and one will have to be done by hand, we are asking that you MAIL your completed forms to us at:


1530 W. Morse Ave

Chicago, IL 60626

The deadline for getting this application back to us is SUNDAY OCTOBER 17th.  If you can get it in well before that deadline, it would be even better.  It takes several weeks to go through the process of having a background check done through the County.  We are planning to turn all of the applications for program facilitators in at one time on Monday October 18th at 10 am.

To recap, you can e-mail the first part of the volunteer application to us at or you can mail the entire packet (including background check request) to us via snail mail.   Sorry for this inconvenience.

Please remember to get it to us by October 17th.