Thursday, November 20, 2014

Meet a strong girl: Kelsy.

This spring, an 8th grade girl named Kelsy presented a workshop at Powerful Voices’ Girlvolution Conference entitled, “Families Are Being Torn Apart.” She said, “it is about deportation, and how it is affecting families and the health of the children of the deportees. I also show my audience the importance of families, and ask them to think of how they would feel if someone they loved was being deported.” Kelsy confidently facilitated the workshop attended by 50+ youth and adults, engaging them in a dialogue that included a clear call to action around immigration reform. As we await the President's executive action today, we are remembering how Kelsy courageously shared her own story and taught youth and adults facts about immigration from academic research she completed,

Pictured here are youth and adults in Kelsey's workshop who are reading case studies of immigrants who are being detained. Kelsy asked them to play the role of government employees who have to determine which people will be deported. It was a powerful and moving exercise that generated a lot of dialogue. Kelsy's leadership created a space for our community to reflect on what justice, health and safety mean to them. 

Kelsy is just one example of how Powerful Voices empowers young women to become leaders and change-makers, partnering with others to shape a more just world.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Look into Powerful Choices: Building Community and Sisterhood

Selena in action at Powerful Voices (above) preparing for group.

“Any group of people who come together to discover (and tune into) the power within”
-- Malidoma Patrice Some
It has been an amazing first month with Powerful Choices as programming has been a beautiful growing process. Growth in building community and sisterhood through group activities and community agreements.
After recruitment in September, we now have two awesome girls groups with a total of 32 youth at both Denny and Asa Mercer International Middle Schools.

The past 4 weeks have flown by and I am so excited to see how our community continues to blossom. Building community is essential in creating a safe space for girls to be able to express themselves, share their voices, critically engage, and explore issues important to them while celebrating sisterhood.
In building community, we shared our goals for Powerful Choices:
1)      Build a Safe and Healthy Community of Girls and Women
2)      Know and Grow Self More Deeply: In Voice, Action & Vision
3)      Listen and Share with Others About Things that Matter Most to Us
4)      Explore Issues that affect Women and Girls: In School, In Our Communities, and Our World
5)      Celebrate the Power in Self & Sisterhood.
These goals invited dialogue for girls to express what each goal meant to them or examples they see within their lives, communities and society. In order to achieve these goals and grow in community we also formed our CommUNITY AGREEments. An emphasis on “unity” and “agree” to show that we can come together, united, and agree upon what we as a healthy community need in order to ensure safety. Creating agreements encourages girls to voice and name what they need to feel, be, and stay safe individually and collectively in our group.  Our agreements for both groups consisted of what we wished to develop over the course of the group and also what we wish to be kept out of our safe space.

To surround the community agreements we formed a heart with our Gifted Hands on a poster. This consist's of colorful paper cut-outs of open hands that stated each girl’s name, 4 strengths she has on each finger and something she wishes to cultivate/grow in on her thumb,. These Gifted Hands embrace our agreements so everyone can “take to heart” the importance of honoring our safe space and community!

These agreements are created to help facilitate the cultivation of a healthy and positive community as well as provide a framework for making healthy choices. The agreements act as a reminder for girls to feel proud, safe, and build healthy relationships now and into their futures.  This speaks directly to Powerful Voices vision for “All girls [to] live healthy and personally meaningful lives in a society that values them” and that begins with cultivating a safe and healthy community for young women in many spaces.

My heart is filled with warmth and gratitude for the connections that I have witnessed being created in both Denny and Asa Mercer’s Powerful Choices girls’ groups!  The excitement, engagement, positivity and celebration of sisterhood are truly inspiring. I look forward to sharing more about the growth of our community as we continue to focus on our goals in the weeks to come.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Save the Date: 12.02.14 #givingtuesday

#GivingTuesday is about ordinary people coming together doing extraordinary things. On December 2nd people all over the nation will make a gift to causes they care about.  You are invited to rmake a donation to Powerful Voices as part of #GivingTuesday.  

Don't want to wait for #GivingTuesday?  Donate today.

Giving Thanks.

Thanks to all of us in the Powerful Voices community:

positive girl culture is fostered,
goals are set, 
inequities get challenged, 
girls get connected to their values, 
curriculum is adapted, 
partnerships are built, 
safe and healthy relationships get nurtured,
feedback is given, 
rent gets paid,
and the Girlvolution rolls on.

groups fill up,
a culture of appreciation is built, 
case loads get full, 
agendas get set, 
strategic thinking gets communicated,
donors get cultivated,
girls get better grades, 
grants get written, 
generative questions get asked,
board prospects get vetted,
1:1s get scheduled, 
and the Girlvolution rolls on.

interns get supervised, 
girls feel proud of who they are,
birthdays get celebrated, 
evaluations get completed, 
girls get supported,
staff get paid, 
referral partners get courted, 
girls feel proud of who they are,
space for reflection gets created,
policies get revised, 
critical incidents get resolved, 
and the Girlvolution rolls on.

snacks get bought, 
sponsors are secured, 
girls make safe and healthy choices,
girls use their voices, 
data gets entered, 
girls get motivated, 
focus groups are held,
bills are paid,
girls' goals get achieved, 
donors get thanked, 
a zine is produced,
and the Girlvolution rolls on.

girls get jobs, 
Adult Allies get trained, 
audits get completed, 
PTO gets used,
groups get facilitated, 
technology gets updated, 
thank you notes get written, 
budgets are monitored, 
girls get 21st century skills,
girls become leaders and change makers,
the community gets invested,
and the Girlvolution rolls on.

Thanks to all of us,
girls and allies work together,
strong girls become strong women and build strong communities,
AND...we get that much closer to our vision of a world where all girls live healthy, personally meaningful lives in a society that values them.

Thank you for all of your hard work, patience, smarts and generosity. Happy Thanksgiving.