Pop music artist Katy Perry said that the idea of her mega hit “Roar” came from her own inner voice that was “tired of keeping all of these feelings inside and not speaking up for myself.” The song is an empowering tribute about taking control, and a particular message to all her young fans about self-esteem and recognizing their inner champion. Like Perry’s message, Dr. Carli Snyder is determined to help the next generation of young girls to embrace their extraordinary self.

Snyder is a board certified clinical psychologist specializing in young women’s issues. She started a non-profit called Girl Nation in 2015 as a means of reaching out into the community and helping more young girls to be strong, active leaders in society. “I’ve been working with young women for many years specializing in eating disorders and negative body image,” says Snyder. “Ultimately, the idea behind Girl Nation is to cause a shift in young girl’s thinking from self-doubt to self-esteem as they grow up being strong, confident leaders.”

Today, the overuse of social media is also a factor impacting teens. Peer acceptance and an image obsessed thought process is at its peak for teenagers, especially young women. “When teens develop self-esteem, their risk for depression and anxiety decreases dramatically,” Snyder said. “At Girl Nation, we teach girls how to have a healthy relationship with themselves and their peers. Once that foundation is in place, they can absorb social media with a different perspective.”

Since the inception of Girl Nation, more than 200 young women have participated in the program. They learn of the Girl Nation “pillars”: Self Love, Be Unique, Friendship, Mind Body, Acts of Kindness, Nutrition and Dance. “As founder I like the organization to take an active role in charity, and we’ve assisted groups such as The Shade Tree, Refuge for Women, and Child Haven.” In addition to making Valentine’s Day gifts for the children at Child Haven, donating dollars from a mother/daughter yoga fundraiser at Refuge for Women, Girl Nation has hosted an event called Birthday Bash at Shade Tree. Girl Nation ambassadors organized a birthday party celebrating the children who were spending their birthday month living in the shelter. “They played games with the children and each ambassador brought a gift for one child. Seeing the shelter and meeting with the kids helped the girls feel empathy and compassion for them. Acts of Kindness is one of our pillars, and I was blown away by the generosity and kindness our girls expressed to the children,” recalls Snyder. “It was such a wonderful experience that Girl Nation will be hosting this event every few months.”

Girl Nation also offers a scholarship program to girls who otherwise would not have an opportunity to take the class. Several girls have already received scholarships, and the feedback was so moving that Snyder is expanding the program through their fundraising efforts. The group recently hosted the Las Vegas premier of a documentary film called Screenagers in partnership with The Temple Sinai Las Vegas where donations were accepted. The movie digs into the lives of teenagers and how the time they spend online effects their education, family life, friendships and personal safety. Snyder, along with Rabbi Malcolm Cohen, held a Q&A following the screening, covering topics such as bullying, social platforms, video gaming and internet addiction.

Making a difference is an integral part of Carli Snyder’s life, not only as a doctor, but as a wife and mother of three. “It’s getting out of yourself and being present for the people who need what you have to offer, whether its serving at a soup kitchen or throwing a birthday party for kids in need. I feel that being hands on is the only way to give back.”

This article originally appeared in the September issue of 89135 Zip Code Magazine.

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