CREATE Club Inspires Creativity and Confidence in Local Middle School Girls

Pictured L-R: CREATE Club members Emma Langas '25, Koli Razafindandy '24, Avery Benko '25, Nina Antonio '25, and Emily Marple '25 on Jan. 23, 2024. Photo taken by Alex McCullough '26. 

CC students are working with local elementary and middle school girls to inspire them to be creative, confident, and imaginative through the Collaborative for Community Engagement CREATE Club.

“This club is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community, get community service hours, and spend time with youth,” says co-chair Emily Marple ’25. “Younger students look up to college kids, and, by sharing your experiences, you can inspire them to pursue their passions or even to attend college. Also, because of the nature of the club, it provides opportunities to bond with students and form a friendship. It is more than just volunteering sporadically. Additionally, this club is a lot of fun if you enjoy doing crafts!”

“The club’s purpose is to provide a safe community for femme-identifying and LGBTQ+ students by having a one-on-one mentorship program,” says Gabby Rogan ’25, a Political Science and History major and Education minor. “This club gives an opportunity for adolescent students to ask uncomfortable questions that they don’t necessarily feel like opening up to other adults about.”

CC CREATE members typically begin discussions by letting the middle school girls ask questions about that day’s topic, like why protecting the environment is so important.

“This gives students the opportunity to have more control over the conversation, and we can address topics they really care about,” says Rogan, who has been a member of the club for two years and became co-chair this year. “I believe that is how we are able to build that kind of trust.”

While CREATE members have a general idea of designated topics, they try to be very flexible and allow the girls to control the conversation and ask their own questions about the topic.

“The lessons are not very structured, because we want everybody to feel comfortable and have more agency in the space,” Rogan says.

To keep things light when discussing difficult or sensitive topics, CREATE members will conduct an arts and crafts activity with the middle school girls, such as collaging or making friendship bracelets.

“Middle school students deserve to have a safe space outside of the classroom and home that allows them to express themselves how they want to and talk about whatever is on their mind–even if it is uncomfortable,” says Rogan. “This is such an important age for adolescents to have positive role models and reinforce good behaviors that will help them in the future.”

CREATE club members provide overall mentorship to the middle school girls, as well as offer advice and encourage them to advocate for themselves in difficult situations, such as friendship drama or problems with teachers.

Prior to COVID-19, CREATE would match CC students with specific middle school girls, allowing the girls a more individualized mentorship experience. However, during COVID, attendance became increasingly difficult to predict, so the club shifted formats into more group-focused activity and conversations.

Also because of COVID, CREATE club members worked with a larger span of grade levels, including some elementary school students, meaning students in older elementary school grades were in discussions with eighth grade students, all coordinated by CC CREATE club members.

“Because of this unique circumstance, students get to be mentors for younger members of the group, and the younger members are able to better advocate for themselves at the end of the semester,” Rogan says.

One of Marple’s favorite moments of CREATE was actually when they got to work with kindergarteners due to COVID restrictions at the middle school.

“We were outside on the playground when a kindergartener saw an empty milk carton from the cafeteria,” says Marple, an Organismal Biology and Ecology major and Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies minor. “She immediately ran over and picked it up and told me, very sternly, that the fifth graders were always littering. We went around and picked up all the trash on the playground together while she talked about how it was bad for the environment to leave trash out. She was clearly very passionate, and it was so cute because it reminded me of myself in elementary school. I told her that it was really good that she cared about the environment, and that we need people like her to care. I also told her that I was in ‘14th grade,’ and that I spend a lot of my time studying the environment and how climate change is affecting the world. I said I thought she would be an amazing scientist. She thought about it for a few seconds and said, ‘I do really like science class...maybe I'll study that.’ While I have no clue if that idea will stick with her, I left CREATE that day feeling very happy and fulfilled.”

Marple joined this club because she wanted to get more involved in the local Colorado Springs community. Additionally, she is interested in working with young adults in the future, so she’s been able to explore this interest with CREATE.

This semester CREATE has resumed working with just middle school girls.

“COVID has definitely presented many obstacles in terms of having a consistent school to work with, but we are so grateful to be able to still remain a club,” Rogan says. “My favorite part of CREATE is definitely when students greet us when we get to the classroom, because there is so much love in those moments.”  

“Some of my other favorite memories from CREATE are debriefing in the car with other CC students,” says Marple, who joined CREATE in her sophomore year and became co-chair last semester. “We all drive to and from the school together, so it is fun to regroup at the end and talk about the experiences we had. From telling silly stories and observations, to asking for advice from other club members, these car rides build a sense of community and friendship within the club. I am grateful for the opportunity to chat about everything on our way back to campus!”

CREATE members meet on the first and third Thursday of every block and the time commitment is about four to six hours a block, though the schedule is subject to change depending on the needs of the schools they work with. The club aims to have seven to 12 consistent members in order to meet the demands of the schools and to allow for student and mentor relationships to develop. The club currently has seven active members. CC students interested in joining CREATE should reach out to Emily Marple at

Report an issue - Last updated: 03/08/2024