By Crystal Wong, Girls Inc. Intern

“STOP. LEAVE ME ALONE. GO AWAY. AHHH!”

A small group of five elementary school girls scream at the top of their lungs and run around the grassy lawn before eventually collapsing onto the ground in a fit of giggles.

For the most part, these three phrases are often associated with danger. But with Girls Inc. of Orange County, their Elementary School programs are trying to teach their participants how to protect themselves in everyday situations.

For the months of April, May, and June, Girls Inc. is bringing their program Action for Safety to Adams Elementary and College Park Elementary. In collaboration with Project Success – Newport Mesa Unified School District’s after school program – Girls Inc. is offering a program that teaches enrolled girls how to react in situations where, when, and if they ever feel threatened.

Andria Azevedo is the current facilitator in charge of preparing the girls to be what Girls Inc. stands for – strong, smart, and bold. Azevedo is particularly passionate about what she teaches and what Girls Inc. has to offer for younger children.

“We’re trying to teach girls what you can’t really learn in school,” said Azevedo.

Having gone through the program herself when she was younger, Azevedo has emerged as the epitome of strong, smart, and bold. Azevedo is confident when demonstrating how to do a sidekick, yet she is gentle when speaking to the girls who look up to her.

The Elementary Program is currently aimed towards teaching 3rd through 6th graders how to be aware of their surroundings, protect themselves by using self-defense, and how to actively use their voice. Divided into two groups (3rd and 4th, 5th and 6th), each group spends an hour each reviewing and practicing how to throw punches and kicks, on punching bags and escape technique