CHICAGO — All across Chicago, a counseling and social-emotional services program known as Working on Womanhood (WOW), has set out with the goal of boosting young women’s confidence alongside their academic success in the City’s most high risk and under-served communities.

Mena Ruiz connected with the program when she was at Solorio Academy High School on the City’s Southwest Side.

“I was recommended to join Working on Womanhood my sophomore year of high school,” said Ruiz, who is now a youth counsel facilitator with WOW. “It really changed my life coming from the neighborhood I’m in, my family background. I really needed the support that the group offered and it shows you you’re not alone.”

According to their website, WOW uses a trauma-informed counseling method known as cognitive behavioral therapy to help give girls the tools they need to manage stress, while also boosting their confidence.

“It’s all of us together being able to express our emotions and personal things going on in and out of school,” Ruiz said.

WOW is one of several social-emotional service programs offered by Youth Guidance, a Chicago non-profit who’s goal is to create and implement school-based programs that enable children to overcome obstacles while succeeding both in the classroom and in life.

Alongside WOW, Youth Guidance also runs Becoming a Man (BAM), Evolve and Project Strive. Shykira Richards, Director of Program Administration for WOW, said their mission is to develop a strong foundation to help young people build the future they want, and remove barriers to give them the support they need.

“We focus on certain topics to help them get that comfort and utilize their voice to take [on] accountability, integrity, self-awareness [and] emotional intelligence,” Richards said. “That way they can show up as leaders, however they want to show up in the world.”

On Wednesday, Youth Guidance will host it’s annual Bright Futures Gala at the Hilton Chicago, raising money to support their programs. For more information on Youth Guidance and the Bright Futures Gala, you can visit their website.