Camille McGirt & Healthy Girls Save the World

Because healthy girls become healthy women

When I’m asked to think about a woman I personally know who is all about making moves, I immediately think of Camille. From the moment I met her, I quickly realized that she is extremely focused and not into anything that will hinder her dreams and goals.

I mean it when I say that Healthy Girls Save the World means the most to her and her sister Rachel. I’ve seen how much time and effort goes into organizing the many events for the young ladies involved and how much the program has grown since she stepped foot on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill.

I can’t wait to see what’s next for Healthy Girls. If you know Camille, then you know the possibilities are endless.

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First & Last Name

Camille McGirt

Why did you decide to start Healthy Girls Save the World?

As an impressionable 19-year-old White House Intern in the fall of 2010, I volunteered with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, where I acquired a robust desire to make the comprehensive message of fulfilling healthy habits tangible for girls in my hometown community of Durham, North Carolina. During that gap-year of school, I subsequently interned in U.S. House Representative Emanuel Cleaver’s (D-MO) office. As part of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Internship, I wrote a “Community Action Plan” — and within that thoughtful lens, my venture, Healthy Girls Save the World (HGSW) was transcribed.

I decided to create HGSW because I wanted to address the social determinants of health that influence health behaviors on an individual level for young girls. I knew that by having a program with college-aged minority women serving as strong role models and mentors, exposing young girls to NCAA college athletes, and changing their attitudes, knowledge, and beliefs as it concerns their holistic well-being, then we might have efficacious impact. I also knew I wanted a quality program for minority African-American girls that would help to combat racial health disparities in the long-run. By teaching girls how to be healthy at a young age, we create healthy women, healthy women create healthy families and healthy families create healthy communities.

What does Healthy Girls Save the World mean to you?

As a public servant, I am on a mission to sustain a community health program that is well organized, fundable, engaging, and results driven. It is no secret that children in our society face a number of barriers. Obstacles, such as poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and lack of parental support, are prevalent in the daily lives of American children. In particular, young girls often approach adolescence under the influence of these factors coupled with gender and cultural norms related to physical activity. I simply wanted to be a part of the solution seekers. I’m dedicated to changing the paradigm of fragmented health education by developing integrative and accessible programs that assist young girls in achieving their health goals through self-efficacy and SMART goal achievement.

Voluntarily leading a non-profit is challenging yet stimulating as we are constantly refining our logic model, discussing sustainable revenue streams outside of grants and sponsorships, reviewing outcome measures, while also overseeing operations. With my leadership, HGSW has secured tens of thousands of dollars in funding through pitch competitions, grants, and donations. It is our goal to expand our influence to other counties in North Carolina by founding chapters at other colleges. With the reproducible structure of a HGSW chapter and regular programming, university partnerships have the potential to be epicenters of change for girls’ holistic health achievement across the entire state of North Carolina and potentially on a national scale. Serving as the trailblazer for HGSW is how I create positive change through leadership and service.

What have you had to overcome in order to achieve success?

I started HGSW after playing basketball at Hampton University for two years as a full-scholarship athlete. My college athletic career was stifled with injuries and two surgeries in the same same year (ACL & torn labrum). At the end of my sophomore year, my former head coach sat down with me during my exit interview and said, “Camille, we have decided to move in a different direction. We will not renew your scholarship for the upcoming school year, but you’re a smart girl and you’ll figure it out.”

That was devastating news because as a 19-year-old 6’4 woman, my identity was deeply entrenched into basketball. I had literally invested blood, sweat and tears into the sport. Fortunately, while I was at Hampton I had a 3.85 GPA (one of the highest of all student athletes) and I was really involved on a campus as I was in Hampton’s Leadership Institute, wrote for the student paper and completed several hours of community service. I was able to land an internship at The White House and a subsequent internship with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s “Emerging Leaders Internship Program.” Upon completion of my gap-year in Washington, I came back to North Carolina to finish my undergraduate degree at UNC Chapel Hill and I started HGSW.

By teaching girls how to be healthy at a young age, we create healthy women, healthy women create healthy families and healthy families create healthy communities.

What does it mean to be a black business owner?

Serving as a black business owner means that I can set an example for others to go on and complete even greater work. Unfortunately, masses of black people have not hit the upper echelons (in sizable proportionate numbers) of several industries including the entrepreneurial and social enterprise realm. I would like to serve as a black leader who is able to develop a strong non-profit that is serving underserved communities. I’d like for my leadership and venture to serve as a strong example for how to manage a robust and innovative organization. I love being a black business owner and I’m really excited that there are so many others who have ideas and companies that they are launching.

What advice do you have for people who are ready to follow their dreams but are hesitating?

I would say GO FOR IT despite the obstacles! Talk about your idea, generate some leverage and network — especially if you are black. I was recently at an entrepreneurship panel in NYC and the panel was full of Caucasian executives. I asked, “What is the emphasis on diversity in entrepreneurship and are there any disparaging obstacles that African-American’s face when trying to obtain venture funding or seed capital?” The answer that I received was that African Americans and many people of color do not have access to the resources and networks that quite a few Caucasians have at their fingertips. For example, you hear more stories about Caucasians obtaining 250K from family or a close friend to start a business rather than African-Americans. People who have ideas for ventures and/or who are ready to start their dreams should get up and go tackle them now! Find a few people that will help to define the need you’re solving, refine your idea and create a strong strategy and then have other people help you expand your own network to get the resources that you need to knock the venture off the ground!

Bragging Rights

I was recently featured on the Dr. Oz Show and hopefully it was the first of many national television appearances for me!

Want to contact Camille for more information?

Learn more about Healthy Girls Save the World via their website www.healthygirlssavetheworld.org and by following the organization on Twitter via @healthygirls_ and Instagram via @healthygirlssavetheworld_.

Feel free to also connect with Camille on LinkedIn.

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Do you know a Black Creator or Tastemaker? Of course you do! Let me know in the comments so I can feature him or her this year!

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