CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — We all know the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” One of the most critical times during a kid’s life is when a good role model can make a big difference, especially during the early teen years.

Dream Girls Academy is one making sure young women find just that. They are one of several central Illinois organizations that will benefit from this year’s WCIA Day of Giving event.

“It’s a tough time to be a woman,” said Dream Girls Academy Communications Director Shannon McFarland.

“Society expects women to be a certain way and they have to meet certain standards,” said Kamryn Holt, with the academy.

“A lot of girls in the community don’t have positive influences,” McFarland explained. “I kind of had that at home. I see that my mom wants to fill that gap for girls who were not like me who did not grow up like me.”

McFarland’s mom, Debarah, founded Dream Girls Academy for that exact reason in 2013. She helps her mom oversee the non-profit now.

Recurring 6-week boot camps are a way for girls to learn about leadership, responsibility and more.

“The goal for this one was for the girls to understand entrepreneurship,” said McFarland. “They spent six weeks making teas, designing candles and bath salts. Then, they actually had a chance for a pop-up shop.

Ninth-graders A’Miracle Dorsey and Holt said they have learned important lessons from being a part of Dream Girls. “It really empowers people and women,” said Dorsey.

Holt said it is okay to express yourself and to not be afraid to speak your mind. “I think it’s important to build a sisterhood,” said Holt. “Coming together and encouraging each other to do better.” That includes coming together with older women.

The non-profit hosted a healing session in October for mothers who lost children to violence. Because no matter what age you are, the mission of Dream Girls applies.

“Walk with pride, courage and grace,” said McFarland. “You can be an example to others gracefully and they’ll want to follow you…There’s a soft element to being a woman, and there’s power in that.”

Dream Girls Academy leaders said any donation amount goes a long way. They use it for things like boot camp supplies, field trips and more.

A portion of the money raised at WCIA’s Day of Giving event will benefit Dream Girls. That will happen November 30 from 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. in the WCIA back parking lot.