Friday, May 31, 2013

Group Shots

We've been doing a lot of celebrating this past month.  Three of our groups came to a close and we celebrated the accomplishments and growth of girls in traditional Powerful Voices style:  potlucks, gratitude, flowers, friends and family.

2013 ActiveVistas and Adult Allies

2012-13 Mercer Powerful Choices Group

2012-13 Denny Powerful Choices Group

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reflections from an Adult Ally

Ashley Mouldon-2013 Adult Ally
When I made the plunge and became an Adult Ally at Powerful Voices, I wasn't quite sure what that would look like.  I knew I wanted to work with young people, help guide them to complete a polished project and make an impact in their lives.  The ActiveVistas program was where I found an outlet for my desire to connect with others living right in my own backyard here in Seattle.

The not knowing part was actually quite exciting from the start.  I was eager to meet the other Adult Allies and make connections with them as well as meet the group of young women we would be working with over the coming months.  Not like a traditional mentoring program, Adult Allies and our ActiveVistas, ended up sitting side-by-side, teaching and learning from each other, wading through heavy social justice issues and working towards a common goal of educating the public.  This was exhilarating!  I was going to be a part of something much bigger than I had ever expected.

As the days turned into weeks, myself and my ActiveVista combed through books and websites, turning bits of information into tangible examples for her to present on at the Girlvolution Conference held in April.  Although it was hard work, we both stuck with it as we each held a personal connection youth violence, the topic at hand.  In between research-heavy afternoons, I also began making those connections with the other
Adult Allies I had longed for from the start of the program.  This was just a perk, and something greatly welcomed, as I was new to the Pacific Northwest.

The project and PowerPoint presentation was coming together beautifully towards to the end of the program and I couldn't have been happier with the results.  It was amazing to see my ActiveVista come into her own, hold strong to her beliefs and truly want to make a difference in her community.  I was inspired by her tales of perseverance, hope, longing and determination to reverse the negative stereotypes she witnessed.  This program was a way for her to overcome fears and to face them head on which she did elegantly and forcefully.

As an Adult Ally, I often found myself thinking back to when I was in high school, in a small town in southern Illinois and how I wished I had had this same opportunity.  Although I didn't have this same type of program when I was a teenager, I was more than happy now, as an adult, to play this special role as an Adult Ally.

I will always remember my time at Powerful Voices as a great journey, welcomed and exciting.  It was a time for me to make new friends with others as well as explore what it was truly like to work with a young person.  It was an eye-opening and humbling experience and I’m forever grateful for the lessons both taught and learned.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Girlvolution 2013 No Apologies

Forgive me because I am going to start this recap on blog post Girlvolution 2013 on a seemingly unrelated topic but I’m going to try and bring it back around. 

Forgive me because it was about something my partner brought to my attention last night at a restaurant, and blog posts mentioning private conversations between couples can be annoying.  
While ordering, the female server kept on apologizing over and over again for not having the particular items listed on the menu.  My man,  a restaurant manager and server himself, eased her anxiety with a "no worries" and a smile. When she walked away, he leaned into the table and whispered that he "never apologizes" when items have run out on the menu and just states it as a fact to the customer.  

Always empathic to a female server in a sexist world, I attributed his non-apologies to his male privilege. He agreed.
Forgive me if you think this is obvious, or even if you think this is a sweeping generalization but females are socialized to apologize too much (or think they are offending more than they are) in everyday communication and interaction.  Actually, don't forgive me, because I have decided I am not asking for forgiveness or apologize for this statement.  
The ActiveVistas of 2013 taught me how to do this.

Which brings me to our 4th Annual Girlvolution Conference, held a couple of weeks ago at Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club, where attendees witnessed 11 young women speak their truth and not apologize for their views and raising their voices on 

various social justice issues pertaining to their lives.  Even in this supportive space, many were asked to apologize and retract at certain moments when adults did not agree with them.   And like the capable facilitators they are, the ActiveVistas of 2013 held their own, listened, and responded with their own truths and perspectives.
Here are a few of my favorite moments reported by attendees:
  • In a workshop about Teen Gangs, one ActiveVista educated her audience when she reported the original meanings of the acronyms for the famous gangs CRIPs and BLOODs. BLOOD means Brotherly Love Over Oppression and Destruction while CRIPs means Community Restoration in Progress.  Many commented on the radical misconception of what it means to be in a gang and family. 
  •  In both the Parental Drug and Teen Justice workshops, the ActiveVistas had very brave, vulnerable and respectful dialogues with their parents who were in attendance about their very personal topics.
  • In what seemed to be the most controversial workshop from one of our youngest ActiveVistas about Teen Prostitution, opinions divided rooms and inspired heated debate amongst adults and youth within the workshop.  The ActiveVista controlled the room and responded with grace and power.
We as staff were fascinated and moved by the incredible response the girls got and the passion they pulled out of their workshop attendees.  The community who responded with respectful support of the ActiveVistas support obviously read our Program Manager Molly Pencke's blogpost.
Here are a few feedback comments we received.
·               "It's just so beautiful to see young women speak about issues many others don't know how to speak about."
·               "The opportunity for young people to share, confront challenging issues in supportive environment was inspiring!"

·               "Hearing the girls’ voices!! Seeing them act on and with their skills, talents and succeed!"
·               "I loved the inter- generational, cultural, and gender involvement."

Some PV staff and volunteers at the end of the day.  To see more photobooth pictures, see our facebook page!

In addition to individual support, we had much community resource support from:

We are so thankful to everyone who put such hard work into this event. Thank you thank you thank you to the volunteer committee, Powerful Voices staff and all attendees.

Don't apologize for not being there this year if you did not make it, just make sure you will be there for GIRLVOLUTION 2014!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New group launches with Atlantic Street Center!

our goals
Did you know that a girl living in South Seattle is six times more likely to become a mother at 15 than her counterpart in North Seattle?  And did you know that one in ten high school girls in WA reports that in the last year an intimate partner limited her activities, threatened her or made her feel unsafe?  And one in six reported being hit, slapped or physically injured? Now put those statistics together.  A young woman, pregnant or newly parenting who is in an unhealthy and unsafe relationship. 

We imagine you are having the same reaction we did when our colleagues from the City of Seattle Human Services Department shared with us that girls enrolled in a teen parent group at Atlantic Street Center were more and more frequently telling stories about their own experiences or those of their peers who were concerned about unhealthy relationships and exploitation.  Together, we decided to do something to address this need.

In April 2013, we launched our new program, called Powerful Choices.  The program is co-facilitated by two amazing women:  Stephany from Powerful Voices and Sonita from Atlantic Street Center.  Our goal is that after completing an intensive 6-week group, these pregnant or parenting moms will:
  •          be able to identify the components of and the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship.
  •          report increase safety strategies to prevent being sexually exploited.
  •          develop increased self-esteem, self-efficacy and pro-social behavior.
  •          report increased recognition and use of family, school and community resources.

ASC staff Sonita, gets the room ready for the first group


Highlighting superstar alumna, Ressie!

Powerful Voices is highlighting alumna Ressie, who was involved in our programs from ages 12 to 18.  Ressie was also the keynote speaker at our first ever Girlvolution conference in 2010.  When Powerful Voices thinks of Ressie words like strong, intelligent, wise, driven, compassionate, and leader come to mind. Read on to hear what she is up to now, how PV had an impact on her, and what she thinks about girls and the world!  

Where are you now and what are you doing?
I am 19 and currently a sophomore at Hampton University in Hampton, VA. I am history major and am on a partial scholarship and ready to GRADUATE.  I am soooo ready to get into a classroom and be the kind of teacher I was missing: passionate, committed, and knowledgeable. I also am involved in a mentoring program in Virginia called “Sister II Sister” as well as a mentor in the office of Student Support Services, there I help mentor freshmen on their journey of college-life.

How did you get involved with Powerful Voices?
The way I got involved with Powerful Voices was through my after school program called Girls R.A.P. which stands for Rights Action Power [program now called Powerful Choices] in 7th grade at Denny Middle School.

What was your first impression of Powerful Voices?
My first impression was that I was in a place of growth and positive energy.

Looking back, how did Powerful Voices impact your life?
Hugely. Without Powerful Voices I would not be the self-sufficient and powerful woman I am today. With the lessons taught in Girls R.A.P. and the job opportunities that I had with Powerful Voices I was able to build my character and become more well-rounded.

What is the best thing that has happened to you since being involved with Powerful Voices?
There have been a lot of things to be proud of and grateful for, but if I had to choose one it would have to be, getting accepted in college in 2011.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?
If someone was to just look at where I am now and all that I am doing, they would be surprised at how far I have come to be where I am today. I have seen and lived struggle, but I refuse to let my future children do the same.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
To be able to read people’s minds. If I had that superpower I would be able to help those who are too
shy and timid to ask for help and assist them whenever needed… kind of like myself when I started Girls R.A.P. 

What do you think are important issues affecting girls?
At this point in time, I think self-esteem. This issue is the major one which creates the “sub issues” such as teen pregnancy, prostitution, high dropout rates, and the list goes on.

What would you like to change about the world?
I would like to change the overall attitude about education, more specifically in the United States. I am a history major going into education and I feel there is an overall need for the attitude to change from a want to a necessity to flourish.

What is your dream for girls?
That girls would OWN their INDEPENDENCE and STRENGTH and take over the world. If women as a whole understood their endless capabilities then, the men in the world have to choice but accept
and hopefully understand as well.