Girls’ LEAP’s mission is to empower girls and young women to value and champion their own safety and well-being.
Girls’ LEAP (Lifetime Empowerment & Awareness Program) is a non-profit agency which offers self-defense and empowerment programs to Boston girls aged 8-18. Girls’ LEAP provides programs throughout Greater Boston by partnering with community based organizations to reach girls in their own neighborhoods. Our programs incorporate unique self-reflective and physical self-defense activities to transform the lives of girls by teaching skills that encourage conflict resolution, violence de-escalation and healthy boundary setting. Girls’ LEAP programs help girls unlock their voices, and increase their self-worth and courage.
Girls’ LEAP Self-Defense partners with schools and community agencies in the Greater Boston area to deliver programming to girls aged 8-18. Our original curriculum combines physical self-defense skills with self-reflective activities. By validating girls’ experiences and feelings about violence, LEAP helps girls to build self-esteem and confidence. Our programs can be offered in a variety of formats to fit the needs of our partner agencies.
Girls’ LEAP began as a community response to a wave of sexual assaults against women and girls in Cambridge in 1995. LEAP was co-founded by Deborah Weaver, faculty member in the Department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics at Wellesley College and Peggy Barrett, Education Director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and former Director of the Women’s Center at Tufts University, both Cambridge residents at the time. Outraged by the lack of public warnings from police about the assaults, Deborah and Peggy committed themselves to helping protect others. Discovering that girls ages 10-14 were most at risk for sexual assault and exploitation, and that there was no programming available to teach young girls how to protect themselves, the two women founded Girls’ LEAP.
After extensive research into the types of programs that worked and why, the curriculum for Girls’ LEAP was carefully constructed to include role playing and intergenerational teaching teams and self-directed scenarios. Girls’ LEAP delivered its first programs in 1997 and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2000. Since then, the overarching goal has been to provide girls and young women with the tools to protect and advocate for themselves in a variety of contexts by developing their self-confidence and courage.