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Trailblazing: Young Women on the Move

Mary Beth Gentry believes in young women and their unlimited potential. She founded Young Women on the Move (YWOM) in 2005 to help unleash the power of girls to create a more vibrant, healthy and peaceful world. When asked about YWOM’s work, Mary Beth, who also serves as chief executive officer, stated, “Today’s youth are by far our country’s most precious resource. An investment in them now will yield significant returns to all of us. Too many young women in our community are marginalized with few opportunities to reach their full potential. At YWOM, we focus primarily on adolescent girls to help them break through the many barriers to reaching their full potential. When we make sure they have caring adults in their lives, when they discover their strengths, and have opportunities to grow, they will thrive. And so will we.”

Mistie Vang and Audrey Lopez

Young Women on the Move’s focus on adolescent health embraces a holistic approach to health and wellness for young women, ages 11 through 24, who reside in Wyandotte County. YWOM is fully endorsed by the Kansas City, Kansas School District, and the organization collaborates with health, business, and community organizations who support the more than 400 young women served. Carol Marinovich said, “Young Women on the Move brings together the community in support of young women. By providing a safe, welcoming environment with hot meals through its Summer Girls Empower Camp, our organization was able to access and serve girls beyond our individual reach.”

Aubrei Harris was all smiles at the field trip to Gibbs Farm during Young Women on the Move’s summer camp.


Chef Gary Hild, healthy cooking instructor; with A’Kirah Fields and Yajaira Pacheco

YWOM’s services include school-based workshops, as well as after-school and summer programs. An intensive leadership development program called Trailblazers prepares girls to model holistic health as peer mentors and become advocates for healthy community change. YWOM has collected data to support the effectiveness of its holistic approach. They have found that 98 percent of participants graduate from high school compared to 79 percent overall for the district. In addition, 75 percent of the participants report increased resiliency and improved self-efficacy. These positive outcomes are consistently seen from the young women who engage in the weekly programs.

Tamia Phillips, Asia Upton, Amaris Hernandez, Yulissa Bunuelos, and Rebecca Garza were pictured at a field trip to the Kansas State Capitol.

Volunteers assist YWOM in numerous ways. Community members can volunteer to assist with the weekly after-school or summer programs. Facilitators are trained to mentor and engage youth in life skills workshops and activities. There are also opportunities to serve on the board of directors, assist with co-teaching evidence-based curricula in workshop settings, join special projects for groups or individuals, and offer administrative support in the form of curriculum development, grant writing, marketing, and more.   

Featured in the March 19, 2022 issue of The Independent.
By Nicole Jacobs Silvey

Nicole Jacobs Silvey

Nicole is passionate about philanthropy and spent more than 20 years working in the non-profit sector. She became a contributing writer for The Independent in April of 2021 and enjoys telling the stories of Kansas City’s most noted leaders. When not writing for The Independent, she dedicates her time as the Founder and President of Connection Coach KC. Nicole can most often be found cheering on her son, Rowan, during a sporting event or spending time volunteering at one of the many organizations she admires. Nicole and her husband, Patrick, enjoy raising Rowan and Cooper (their golden puppy!) in Kansas City, a community they love to call home.


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