By Shawn McClenahan and Renata Radice
ROX, or Ruling Our Experiences, is a fantastic new addition to the curriculum at Shenango High School. Led by Mrs. Lindsey Merryman, the goal of the program is “to equip girls with the information and skills needed to live healthy, independent, productive, and violence-free lives.”
Merryman first discovered the program from her mother, who is the principal’s secretary at Clarion-Limestone Elementary School.
“I talked with her principal as well as the teachers who had implemented it,” said Merryman. “I started doing my own research and really started to buy-in to the idea.”
She was further inspired when she began to read the book Girls Without Limits by the author Lisa Hinkleman, founder of the ROX program. As she read deeper, she fell in love with the concept, so she knew that the curriculum would be even better.
“I know that girls are going through so many different struggles in today’s society. There are such unrealistic expectations and pressures,” explained Merryman. “I wanted to bring something to them that could help them navigate all of this with confidence and support in order to be their best version of themselves.”
Merryman plans on expanding the program to give more girls the opportunity to be involved. She even met with Mr. Sumner, elementary assistant principal, in an attempt to create opportunities for elementary girls. Merryman also intends to present ROX at the county-wide in-service in February to spread the word to other districts in hopes of helping girls outside of Shenango.
While the group received a grant this year, they are currently selling “School Band-Aid” first aid kits to become financially self-sufficient. Merryman is also looking for sponsorships from local businesses to fund the class in the future.
While the ROX curriculum has three key parts to it–strength, independence, and courage–Merryman says that the most important aspect of the program is that girls leave the room with more confidence than they had before they entered.
“I believe many of the decisions that girls make that affect them negatively are due to a lack of confidence,” Merryman stressed. “I believe that this program helps girls have better relationships with other girls, better relationships with boys, improves their confidence, teaches them self-defense techniques, and empowers them to create a better future.”