In my work as a CORRAL volunteer, I am fortunate that I see girls growing and their lives changing in positive ways. Being a part of this extraordinary community, I am often reminded of author Iyanla Vanzant‘s words. “Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth,” Vanzant wrote. Having overcome many obstacles to self-esteem, Vanzant knows of what she speaks.
CORRAL Girls Know Their Worth
At CORRAL we help our girls discover that no matter what the world may have told them, they have intrinsic worth and a promising future. They have voices. Their opinions are heard and respected. And a difference of opinion won’t close the door on their opportunities.
Building on this foundation, the girls develop their power to face life’s challenges outside the CORRAL fence. They begin to take the steps necessary to navigate their paths to a meaningful life and to becoming women of impact.
We believe that anyone who has been broken can be made whole again and that horses can reach the heart of an at-risk girl in a way that others in their lives often cannot. Thus, for a CORRAL girl, self-worth is an important starting point in her healing. CORRAL teaches our girls that to love and advocate for themselves is part of their life-changing efforts. And they come to understand that they are deserving of healthy lives and relationships.
Girls Don’t Need to Stay Small
“Girls who have experienced trauma usually try not to seek attention; they try to stay small,” says CORRAL founder Joy Currey. “They expect the world to be against them. At CORRAL, we provide protective factors to get them back on the right path, and offer examples of a different and positive way to live.”
There was a time I knew what it was to stay small, to have no voice. Far from home and married to an abuser, I lived silently and curled inward. Doing my best to be invisible was the only way I believed I could avoid physical and emotional harm. I had no CORRAL Riding Academy, no Joy Currey and no community that stepped up to protect me and work with me to help me make my life whole.
It’s taken me years to unlearn negative patterns and understand that my low self-esteem made me susceptible to abuse. Today I know that it’s not rude or selfish to advocate for myself take a firm stand on how I expect to be treated.
I also know that without self-confidence and self-worth, you ride a daily seesaw of indecision and fear. Over time your senses numb, as you habitually ignore your instincts in order to fit in or get along. You mistrust your thoughts and emotions, and, eventually, quash your potential.
Girls Have Value
My younger self thought that worth was reserved for the learned and the accomplished, for people who, I wrongly believed, possessed traits I did not. What right did I have to assume a place in their world, or ask anything from it, I wondered?
Today, I know my reasoning was faulty. We all have value. We are all worthy of respect. We all have something to contribute. I never want a CORRAL girl — or any girl — to share the misplaced beliefs I held. It is incredibly rewarding and redeeming to help these young woman and nurture their beliefs in themselves.
Strong Girls = Strong Community
It’s time we — as a nation — put an end to the cycle of hurt that perpetuates legacies of self-hatred, mistrust and abuse among women in America. Having a place where I can dig in and work toward that goal, right here in my community, continually inspires me.
If you’d like to join me in championing these young women, whether serving or giving, I highly recommend the experience. CORRAL has many opportunities to make a difference for a lifetime. No matter how you decide to be involved, you can change a girl’s life.