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GOAL comes to Dawsonville to help local girls
By Tia Lynn Lecorchick
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Dawson County Parks and Recreation has teamed up with the Dawson County School System and The Nordson Corporation to bring a program targeted at middle-school aged girls called GOAL.


GOAL is a national program promoting “self-esteem, self awareness and respect for individual differences in girls and young women, resulting in an enhanced capacity for leadership.”


The Nordson Corporation, an international company that is heavily involved in Dawsonville, plans to be one of the sponsors for the GOAL program.


Dawson County Parks and Recreation and the Dawson County School System have partnered to provide trained facilitators for the program.


According to its Web site, GOAL believes its program will help “girls develop the skills to successfully navigate the challenges of adolescence.”


GOAL uses a number of unique methods to get adolescent girls thinking about the issues that affect them emotionally, mentally and socially. The program aims to create a safe place, guided by facilitators, for young girls to start examining and discussing these issues openly and honestly.


Groups are limited to 12 participants per facilitator to insure that each girl is encouraged to speak up and participate.


Buffie Henson, program coordinator for Dawson County Parks & Recreation, and Shari Chastain, school psychologist for the Dawson County School System, were the first to complete GOAL’s training program in August. The two will be the official facilitators for the GOAL program here in Dawsonville.


“We learned what GOAL believes to be the main points of youth development, the differences between a male and female brain, and why dealing with teenage girls requires a different style of relating and communicating than if we were dealing with teenage boys,” said Henson.  


“I was very reserved in my opinions on how I thought the program would actually turn out. Now that Shari and I have completed the training and have a better understanding of the methods and messages that need to be used and addressed for the program, I feel very confident that the program will have a very positive impact on the girls,” she said.   


According to the GOAL core curriculum, the GOAL vision is to “...shape a future generation of strong, competent and resilient women able to handle life’s challenges with flexibility and a solid grounding in their own identity. GOAL is for girls - the women of tomorrow. The world of the future will be stronger if today’s girls learn how to value themselves and interact successfully in a diverse community.”


The Dawson County Parks and Recreation teams as well as the school system believe GOAL is the perfect program to bring to Dawson County for the community’s growing-up girls.


“In today’s society girls are faced with many more pressures, challenges, obstacles and life changing decisions at a much younger age. GOAL will help them to develop their leadership potential, self-worth and improve their self- esteem.  By doing so, life’s challenges will not seem so insurmountable and they will gain a firm foundation upon which to base their decisions. Buffie and Shari are the perfect role models for this program and they will be excellent facilitators,” said Lisa Henson, director of Dawson County Parks and Recreation. 


To learn more about the GOAL program, visit


For information on upcoming sessions at Rock Creek Park, contact Buffie Henson at (706) 344-3646, Ext. 224 or e-mail: