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Laugh--and Lead: Best deal ever: While you laugh it up being goofy and spontaneous, you're also learning really useful skills.

Did you know that 9 out of 10 girls believe leadership skills can be taught and that everyone can learn them? That's the good news! The bad news is that 4 out of 5 girls don't think they have leadership skills. What leadership skills do YOU have, and which skills would you like to learn?

Each of us can learn and build our leadership skills, starting today. We're the creators of Funny Girls, a program of the Harnisch Foundation that teaches leadership skills through improv comedy to girls in grades 3-8. (Hooray for the Foundation for this and other programs that help girls go where they want to go and become the leaders of tomorrow!)

We partner with afterschool organizations to teach girls to exercise their natural (it's all inside you--really!) core leadership skills: collaboration, agility, self-awareness, empathy, and resiliency. Our Funny Girls' curriculum uses improv games as a way to practice leadership skills. We hope to make Funny Girls available to girls like you one day, but until then, you can easily use improv with your friends to develop your own leadership muscles. Best of all, you'll have fun and laugh a lot as you do it!

You've Already Improv-ed!

Ever have a friend say a word that prompted you to do something wacky, like walk like a chicken and crow and flap your wings? And then others reacted to that by doing or saying something else goofy? Most all girls have--because it's so much fun. If so, then you're all set to do improv. Enjoy!

First, a bit about improv. Improv is short for "improvisation," a type of live spontaneous performance where a group of people figure out how to work together to make up characters and plot on the spot.

In improv, you can use your imagination to act like any character or do any (safe) action. You can pretend to be a raccoon, the President, a water bottle, or your principal. All characters, animals, talking objects, and whatever else are welcome--anything goes!

It might sound intimidating at first. But once you are improvising--supporting one another, using your imaginations, and releasing your inhibitions--creative, smart, and funny things naturally happen.

So get a friend, sibling or family member, and let's do an exercise (next page) from one of our favorite Funny Girls' skills: self-awareness.

Self-awareness is the skill of identifying your emotions. Here's the thing: You might feel a rainbow of emotions all at once. For example, in a conversation with someone, you can feel happy about some parts, and frustrated with other parts.

Recognizing what you're feeling is the first step to managing your emotions. This is a key part of leadership: Before you can lead others, you need to lead yourself and understand your emotional rainbow. Self-aware leaders make the world a better place.

When you are done with the improv game above, share your experiences. Wasn't it wild that even though everyone had different pet peeves, you could probably relate to some of them?

This is called Truth In Comedy. Improv works best when it features people, emotions, and circumstances that reflect our own lives. You didn't have to try to be funny; you just were!

And try this reflection--it's something that can help you sort out feelings any day. Think of a time today when you felt one of these feelings: blissful, suspicious, optimistic, curious, nervous, thankful. Write a sentence about what it felt like and what happened.

The leadership skills of Funny Girls are the skills that we need to be leaders today. When we are self-aware, we recognize our own emotions and we can lead ourselves. When we collaborate, we work better together towards a goal. We can show empathy by recognizing others' emotions, and we can be agile and respond quickly with our own ideas. And we especially need to be resilient--to try, try, try again to work creatively around obstacles to get where we want to go.

We hope you try using improv so you can have fun with your friends while learning leadership skills. If you'd like to learn more about Funny Girls, please visit us at

By Carla Blumenthal and Jenny Raymond

Try It! Rant Game

Here's how to practice self-awareness through an improv game. Pet Peeve Rant is a game you can play with friends and family to explore what it feels like to be self-aware. This game is so much fun! A pet peeve is something that really irks or annoys you. It could be something about your sibling, parent, friend or teacher, or even something like people talking with their mouths full. It can be something really big or something small and petty. This is your chance to share your truth!

The game needs one person to conduct and lead the game, and two to five people who share their rants.

1. Pick one person to be the "Pet Peeve" conductor and let the other people know they will each be sharing their own Pet Peeve.

2. Before the game begins, the conductor asks the other participants to point to their brain when they have their rant topic and are ready to rant.

3. The conductor points to one person to start ranting about their Pet Peeve. She'll rant for about 15 seconds. Encourage the ranter to show a lot of annoyance and frustration in her tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions. You can ask her questions like "How does that make you feel?" or "Show us how your body feels!"

4. After the first person rants for 15-20 seconds, the conductor shifts their hand to someone else. The first person stops talking, and the second person will begin ranting about their Pet Peeve.

5. After the conductor has a chance to point at everyone once, she will return to the first person again. That person continues to rant where she left off for another 10 seconds or so.

6. Finally, the conductor gives the signal to two people at once--and then everyone all at once--with the result of wild ranting and voices growing louder and louder.

7. End the game with "And... scene!" This is how we end a game in improv. Let everyone know: "You just did improv and didn't even know it!"
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Title Annotation:BODY AND MIND
Author:Blumenthal, Carla; Raymond, Jenny
Publication:New Moon Girls
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2019
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