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Excluded to emPOWERed: How to help young people who’ve experienced bullying

Do you know a young person who has been a victim of bullying? Chances are you do, even if they’ve never reported it.  In the United States, 1 in 5 students ages 12-18 has been bullied during the school year according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

Founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center,  the observance/campaign aims to unite communities nationwide to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention.

Often young people don’t report bullying for fear of retaliation or more aggressive harassment.

In seventh grade, I was harassed and teased daily.  The constant bullying was almost unbearable. I was alienated and excluded. Like many tweens and teens, it took months for me to build the courage to speak up for myself and report the taunting.

I confided in a trusted adult – my English teacher – and that changed my life.

You can be the change for young people.

Bullies and their victims have something in common – they both are dealing with some sort of pain. They both need someone to listen to their challenges, struggles, aspirations and hopes. Listening can empower victims and transform perpetrators.

It is up to us – the village – to empower young people to speak up. We must listen without judgment, avoid victim blame and shame and be willing to advocate for them.

Knowledge is power and the more you know about bullying prevention, the more equipped you’ll be to support and empower the young people in your life.

Signs a child is being bullied from Stopbullying.gov (partial list):

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school

For the full list of warning signs, visit https://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs.

Rasheda Kamaria Williams is an award-winning mentor, motivational speaker, author and chief empowering officer for Empowered Flower Girl. Check out a clip from her Bullying Prevention Month talk entitled “Excluded to EmPOWERed.”

Back to School Series: How to inspire an emPOWERed school year

Educators and parents, mentors and coaches all care about the wellbeing and livelihood of young people in our communities.  We are well aware that twenty-first century tweens and teens face unprecedented challenges that many of us may have never imagined, from cyberbullying, drama, trauma and immense societal pressure. 

 But to combat these challenges, I was inspired to do something.

Nearly 15 years ago, I was a mentor and youth advocate who wanted to do something to make a difference for middle and high school students – who like me – were teased, bullied and ostracized by classmates and even relatives.

In 2010, I launched Empowered Flower Girl. Since we started, we’ve been on a mission to transform the way young people relate to one another. Through workshops and programs that address and combat cyberbullying, relational aggression and other social/communications challenges facing youth, we work to empower the next generation of leaders.

So as students prepare for a new school year, we want to remind the adults in their lives of the importance of collaboration aka the Village approach.

It takes parents, educators, community members and youth themselves to truly make a difference.

Let’s work together to ensure that every young person has a successful and safe school year!

Defeating Bullying One Conversation at a Time

Bullying and digital harassment are pervasive in schools and communities around the globe. We all know this. But what are we doing collectively to address and prevent it? Our friends over at Defeat the Label are bringing together students, parents, educators and youth advocates to discuss strategies that produce solutions. And it all begins with a conversation.

On Oct. 26, the organization will host its 3rd annual Community Conversation on Bullying at the Oakland Community Schools Conference Center in Waterford, Michigan. In addition to conversations, the event includes workshops on topics ranging from mental health and relational aggression (girl bullying) to social media and empathy in early childhood.

Empowered Flower Girl’s Rasheda Kamaria Williams will discuss the impact of popular media on girls’ relationship realities and how the adults in their lives can transforms the way they relate to one another during the Mentoring Girls and Inspiring Sisterhood workshop.

Admission to the conference is $25. Learn more and RSVP by visiting defeatthelabel.com.

Empowered Flower Girl focuses on partnerships, community collaboration for 2018/19 school year and beyond

Empowered Flower Girl (EFG), a social enterprise dedicated to transforming the way young people relate to one another, is evolving and expanding its mission. The company will focus its resources toward building partnerships and fostering collaborations with education and community organizations throughout the U.S.

Rasheda Kamaria Williams, founder and chief empowering officer, says that EFG will continue offering workshops and programs in schools but will expand in the area of consulting.

With more than 15 years of community relations, strategic communications and project management experience, Williams understands that many organizations and institutions need support resources.

“Collaboration is key to transforming our communities,” Williams says. “When we combine our talents and work together toward empowering youth and families, we can have a greater impact.”

Founded in 2010, by mentor and author Rasheda Kamaria Williams, Empowered Flower Girl offers programs that combat bullying, drama and other social/communications challenges facing youth. The company has facilitated workshops and hosted events reaching nearly 4,000 youth and adults across Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

For more information, visit www.empoweredflowergirl.com.

Be a mentor in 2018

If you’ve resolved to make a difference or dedicate your time to worthy causes in the new year, I encourage you to consider mentoring.

You may have thought about it in the past but weren’t sure if you’d have the time or qualifications. But chances are – you do!

January is National Mentoring Month – a time for individuals and organizations across the country to bring awareness to the need for caring adults to serve as role models for youth.

I’ve been inspired to mentor for the past 16 years. While I have no biological children, I am dedicated to positively impacting the young people in my family and in my community.

According to MENTOR, the national mentoring partnership, 1 out of 3 children will grow up without a mentor.

There are many benefits for children and teens matched with mentors. These young people are less likely to engage in risky behaviors and activities such as truancy, drugs and gangs. They also are more likely to graduate high school and attend college.

Consider this.

It only takes a few hours a month of face time and a phone call a week to help increase a child’s self-esteem. In addition to the mentee’s development, the mentor benefits in many ways. My mentees have helped me aspire higher in my career and in life. And knowing that they’re looking up to me, keeps me living in integrity.

Still not sure about mentoring?

Visit www.rashedakamaria.com to download your copy of my FREE mentoring guide. 

Rasheda Kamaria Williams is an award-winning mentor, author and chief empowering officer for Empowered Flower Girl LLC. Check out her TEDx talk to learn how mentoring makes a difference. 

Cheers to Stevenson High School!

The Stevenson High School cheer team got a visit from Empowered Flower Girl founder and author Rasheda Kamaria Williams on October 16 during National Bullying Prevention Month.

Mrs. Diana Langlois, a member of Soroptimist International of Grosse Pointe, a volunteer service organization, purchased copies of the book “Be EmPOWERed: How to Live Above & Beyond Life’s Drama” for each girl. Diana’s daughter, Robbie, coaches the team which is made up of 22 ambitious and dedicated cheerleaders.

The girls had been reading the book since the beginning of the semester. To reward the team for their recent successes and to encourage them to keep up the good work, Diana coordinated the visit.

Schedule a “Be EmPOWERed” book talk for your school, organization or house of worship. Empowered Flower Girl offers a special rate for nonprofits that order 20+ books.

Does New Anti-Sexting Legislation Criminalize Kids?

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R.1761, also known as the “Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017,” which builds on current law that makes teen-to-teen sexting a crime.

This new legislation supposedly aims to close “loopholes” in current child pornography legislation. But a recent Forbes.com article revealed that the bill could have teens facing 15 years for trying to sext. Second-time offenders would be fined and imprisoned for up to 50 years.

While it is important to protect our children from predators and those seeking to exploit them, it is also important that we communicate with children the consequences of sharing inappropriate or sexual content. Criminalizing them isn’t the answer.

While the legislation was supported by many in congress, it was opposed by dozens of others, including Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime. Lee, in the article, called the bill “deadly and counterproductive,” and commented during a House debate over the issue, “While the bill is well intended, it is overbroad in scope and will punish the very people it indicates it is designed to protect: our children…”

Learn more about the legislation here.

Program helps teens find passion and purpose in service

Growing up in the ‘80s, I often heard adults saying things like “children should be seen and not heard.” It was their way of maintaining peace and quiet. I was never a proponent of this proverb. In fact, I am a firm believer in the opposite – young people should be seen and heard. Their voices matter!

Everyone – regardless of age – has the power to change the world. All it takes is the courage to speak up and take action.

April is National Volunteer Month and we encourage tweens and teens (and adults) to turn their passions into purpose by volunteering with organizations that reflect the issues and activities they care about the most.

There are thousands of causes, charities and issues in which to get involved. Websites like Idealist.org and VolunTeenNation.org are great resources to help find opportunities that touch, move and inspire action as well as funding to make it all happen.

Looking for ideas to encourage volunteerism among youth?

Empowered Flower Girl’s got you covered with our School & Community Service Learning Guide, which explores ways for tweens and teens to make a difference in their communities based on their interests and passions.

The guide is available for schools and organizations that purchase at least 20 copies of “Be EmPOWERed: How to Live Above & Beyond Life’s Drama.” Register by April 15 and receive special bonuses! Email info@rashedakamaria.com for details.

Be sure to join us at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 8 via Facebook for a special announcement about the service learning guide and how teens can secure funding for their do-good projects!!

About Global Youth Service Day (GYSD)

Hosted by Youth Service America, GYSD is the largest service event in the world and the only one that celebrates the contributions that children and youth make 365 days of the year. 

Empowered Flower Girl to facilitate Mentoring Girls & Inspiring Sisterhood workshop

Cat fights, drama, gossip. While some of us cringe at these behaviors, they’ve become normalized in popular media.

But how are reality TV and social media shaping girls’ relationship realities? Empowered Flower Girl will examine this and how educators and parents can help transform the way girls relate to one another.

As part of the 2017 MAMSE (Michigan Association of Middle School Educators) Conference, EFG will present Mentoring Girls & Inspiring Sisterhood: In the Age of Bad Girls, Housewives and Frenemies.

This year’s conference is scheduled Friday, March 10 at Swartz Creek Performing Arts Center, 8427 Miller Rd, Swartz Creek, Michigan.
Learn more about the conference and register here.

In addition to engaging more online, girls are twice as likely as boys to be victims of cyberbullying. Mentor Girls & Inspiring Sisterhood examines how role modeling and mentoring can combat relational aggression and encourage positive relationships in and out of the classroom.

EmPOWERing 21st Century Girls: Event Aims to Bridge Generation Gap, Inspire Teens to Live Powerfully

Twenty-first century girls face challenges that generations before them may have never imagined. From cyberbullying to societal pressure, they’re coping with the pangs adolescence both on and offline. But because of technological advances, they also have unlimited resources and opportunities to live powerful lives.

On Thursday, March 9 during Women’s History Month, Empowered Flower Girl (EFG) – in partnership with the Skyline Club’s Emerging Leaders Group – will host “EmPOWERing 21st Century Girls.”

The event, scheduled 6-7:30 p.m. at the Skyline Club in Southfield, aims to bridge the gap that exists between 20th and 21st century women and girls while encouraging sisterhood and empathy.

Participants will break down the walls of separation by participating in engaging, inter-generational icebreaking activities as well as learn about local organizations and programs supporting girls and women.

Rasheda Kamaria Williams, EFG founder and author of Be EmPOWERed: How to Live Above & Beyond Life’s Drama, will facilitate the workshop and sign copies of the guidebook and journal.

“The ultimate goal of this event is to boost understanding and empathy across the generations while combating behaviors and norms that lead to drama, relational aggression and other challenges young women face,” Williams said.

The event is open to girls 11 and older and their parents, guardians or other adult chaperones. Admission is $10 per couple and includes appetizers and a raffle ticket for prizes.

Call the Skyline Club at 248-350-9898 to RSVP. Learn more about Empowered Flower Girl at empoweredflowergirl.com.

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