Mound Park Upper Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Becky Girling, back row, fourth from right; fifth-grade teacher Jen Kosi, back row, far right; and a group of Girls on the Run fifth-grade students take a moment for a photo after a practice run at the school. Girling recently was awarded a $4,260 Lowe’s grant to renovate the school’s fifth-grade girls’ bathroom.

Mound Park Upper Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Becky Girling, back row, fourth from right; fifth-grade teacher Jen Kosi, back row, far right; and a group of Girls on the Run fifth-grade students take a moment for a photo after a practice run at the school. Girling recently was awarded a $4,260 Lowe’s grant to renovate the school’s fifth-grade girls’ bathroom.

Photo provided by Becky Girling


Mound Park receives grant for bathroom renovations

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published June 29, 2018

 A group of Mound Park Upper Elementary School Girls on the Run fifth-grade students and several school staff members participate in a celebratory 5K running event at Belle Isle in Detroit.

A group of Mound Park Upper Elementary School Girls on the Run fifth-grade students and several school staff members participate in a celebratory 5K running event at Belle Isle in Detroit.

Photo provided by Becky Girling

 A showcase at Mound Park Elementary School emphasizes the students who participate in the Girls on the Run program. The renovated fifth-grade girls bathroom will be designed to positively impact the students.

A showcase at Mound Park Elementary School emphasizes the students who participate in the Girls on the Run program. The renovated fifth-grade girls bathroom will be designed to positively impact the students.

Photo provided by Keith Tonn

WARREN — When girls leave grade three and move up to grades four and five, many of them go through changes that aren’t always welcome.

“Between the ages of 9 and 11, before they transition to middle school, their peer groups change and they feel stressed about body image. There’s a lot out there with social media, movies and magazines that highlight body images and peer pressure,” Mound Park Upper Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Becky Girling said. “Their self-confidence starts to decline, which impacts their academic success.” 

Knowing what girls face, Girling recently applied for and received a $4,260 Lowe’s grant to help renovate Mound Park’s fifth-grade girls bathroom. Lowe’s operates a chain of retail home improvement and appliance stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Mound Park is part of Fitzgerald Public Schools. 

Girling is working with the school’s art teacher Rhonda Park to design a new fifth-grade girls bathroom that will feature a mural on the wall and posters on the stall doors to help promote self-esteem and body image. Inspirational quotes to remind the female students of their inner strength and confidence also will be part of the new design. New mirrors will also adorn the renovated bathroom. 

“We’ve spent a lot of time researching ideas that would hit most at home with the girls,” Girling said. 

The bathroom will be primed and painted over the summer. Girling and Parks will have the fifth-grade female students add their own touches to the bathroom when school starts in September. 

“I’m grateful for Lowe’s recognizing the need for this sort of empowerment for the young ladies,” Mound Park Principal Keith Tonn said. “Ms. Girling and Ms. Park are going to involve the girls in the painting process to give them ownership.”

Along with the upcoming bathroom renovations, Girling and fifth-grade teacher Jen Kosi sponsor the school’s Girls on the Run program. Girls on the Run — a program of the YMCA — is open to girls in grades three through eight. It teaches the female students life skills through interactive lessons and running games. 

The program lasts 15 weeks and culminates with the girls completing a celebratory 5-kilometer running event with about 3,000 students from metro Detroit. About 15 Mound Park students participate in the program, which is primarily held in the fall. 

Girls on the Run has been offered since 2008 at Mound Park. Even when the program is over, Girling and Kosi continue to meet with the students who were in the program. Tonn believes Girls on the Run has a positive impact on the students. 

“It’s interesting watching them use the problem-resolving skills they learned in there,” Tonn said. “Girling and Kosi serve as mentors for the year. They remind the students of those skills throughout the year.”

Girling also has plans to apply for another Lowe’s grant to eventually renovate the boys fifth-grade bathroom in an effort to inspire and motivate them.

“Boys have the same issues,” Girling said. “It’s portrayed differently at that age. Research shows they perform less academically. They’re going through peer pressure, changing peer groups, and what to know what role they have.”

Girling also runs a program called Innerninja for the fifth-grade male students where they work on life skills and talk about peer pressure. 

In FPS, preschool and kindergarten students attend Schofield, students in grades one through three attend Westview, and fourth- and fifth-grade students attend Mound Park.