On the surface it may have appeared to be a frilly thing, pictures that were published in this newspaper of 12-year-old girls having their hair and nails done at a local salon. In fact it was quite the opposite — the girls who were at the salon that day were participants in a program at the Oak Bluffs School that aims to raise the self-esteem of girls at a critical age. These girls — in the fourth to eighth grade and still too young even to be called young women — also had participated in swimming, riding bikes, hiking trails, visiting Island farms, making zucchini bread and handing out water at a road race.
The program took place over a period of six weeks, and was made possible by donations from an array of Island groups ranging from the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Committee to the owner of Rosecuts salon in Vineyard Haven.
Programs like this are every bit as important as reading, math and science, especially for girls who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. There are plenty of those kids on the Vineyard, and they are not necessarily the ones whose names appear in the youth sports and academic achievements write-ups that appear in Island newspapers.
So it is heartening to see the Oak Bluffs School incorporate girls self esteem into its health programs. Title Nine may be a reality today, but too many girls are still slipping through the cracks.
Thankfully, we can do better than that.