Helping Hearts build project to strengthen self-esteem


Alysa Basmadzhyan

Juniors Maggie Simonyan and Alejandra Iniguez, both members of DPMHS’ installment of Girls Build LA, tape down a poster advertising the Instagram account of their team, The Helping Hearts.

Alysa Basmadzhyan

Junior Maggie Simonyan was faced with insecurities, but since joining Girls Build LA, she has gained more self-confidence and began admiring herself more. 

“I feel like the club really boosted my physical self-esteem,” Simonyan said. “I used to have bad habits of comparing myself to others and being insecure of the tiniest flaws that I noticed in myself. After joining the club, I feel more self-assured because instead of a restricted mindset, I’m able to practice a growth mindset.”

The Helping Hearts is the Girls Build Team at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS). The team, which was formed by Magnet Coordinator Natalie Berghoudian, has 10 girls in it and is now working on a self-esteem project that focuses on the mental health and wellness of both students and adults. In addition to spreading knowledge about self esteem, The Helping Hearts create brochures, flyers and slide decks throughout the year that promote the buildup of higher self-esteem. On Oct. 11, Girls Build had a summit that was presented by the LA Promise Fund. The summit was focused on training young women to steer communities toward a better future. The team at DPMHS was one of the teams featured out of the 65 nationwide teams. 

“I wanted to join because I saw it as an opportunity to try something new since it’s my last year of high school and I really wanted to experience something that’s in school,” said senior Kayla Lopez, a member of The Helping Hearts. 

Berghoudian joined Girls Build LA in 2017 at John A. Sutter Middle School with a group of 10 girls who participated in the Girls Build Challenge as well. Her team’s project focused on bullying. They visited eight local elementary schools and talked about what bullying is and how it can hurt people.  

“It was a very positive experience for me working with the teams at the middle school level,” Berghoudian said. “I really built a relationship with all of them and I saw them become leaders both at our school and in the community.” 

The team at DPMHS submitted an application to Girls Build LA in September and approximately two weeks later, they received word that they had been chosen to take part. The team has been working on their project since mid-September and will keep doing so until the end of May. The Girls Build organization is planning a challenge and each team that participates in it receives a grant worth up to $1,000, which the DPMHS team received.

“Girls Build LA has made an impact on me as a person because I used to have a really negative view of myself, but the girls from Girls Build helped me change that and learn to appreciate who I am,” said junior Alejandra Iniguez, a Helping Hearts member.