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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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Visualize a POWERful 2017

Imagine it’s Dec. 31, 2017. Where do you see yourself? What achievements will you have celebrated?

It may be hard to predict the future, but with proper planning, you can be anywhere you want to be – at villa in Tuscany, on a stage performing or enrolled in a college.

No matter your age, you can create the life of your dreams. It all starts with a vision. If you can see it, you can achieve it.

“The key to achieving any goal is believing that you can,” said Rasheda Kamaria, Empowered Flower Girl chief empowering officer. “Multiply that belief by action and you’ve got the equation for actualization.”

Need a visual aid? Vision boards are awesome tools to help you achieve your goals. A few household items and a bit of creativity are all you need.

Supplies: Poster board, glue stick or tape, scissors, magazines (lifestyle, business and travel recommended)

Interested in having Empowered Flower Girl lead your vision board party or host a vision board workshop for your organization, school or group? Email rkamaria@empoweredflowergirl.com or call 248-629-0334.

Life through the Eyes of Girls

While in New Orleans last month for the International Bullying Prevention Conference, I had an opportunity to connect with Nola.com reporter Diana Samuels. She is one of the journalists engaged in an amazing multi-media initiative called the Southern Girls Project.

Louisiana’s Nola.com – along with Alabama’s Al.com – have partnered to tell the stories of girls growing up in the south. The project launched earlier this year and features everyday girls who share their hopes, dreams, challenges, concerns and ideas.

After reading about several of the girls – mostly middle and high school students – I was intrigued. The multi-media element of the project is powerful. You get a glimpse into the unscripted life of girls.

Girls in the south are like most American girls. They go to school, they’re on social media, have celebrity crushes and think about their future. But they also face unique challenges, including higher rates of poverty and obesity.

But what I love about the Southern Girls Project is that girls have a platform to not only share their stories, they have opportunities to share their solutions to the social and environmental issues that impact them.

In my opinion, every media outlet throughout every region of the country should give youth a voice.

Learn more about the Southern Girls Project at al.com/southerngirlsproject.

Kindness is Key

For many of us, November has been exhausting. The contentiousness of the U.S. presidential election has kept many who work with children and youth on edge. Our children are like sponges and soak up the good and the bad of our collective behavior. Unfortunately, many have picked up on the not-so good.

But all hope is not lost.

We have opportunities to transform how people relate to one another in our communities and classrooms. I recently attended the International Bullying Prevention Association Conference in New Orleans. The theme was “Getting to the Bottom of It: Bullying Prevention through Empathy and Kindness.”

Kindness is powerful. Author and education expert Dr. Michelle Borba noted in her opening keynote that empathy is “we” not “me.” Instilling a we attitude in our children is vital. This can be done in and out of school through experiential activities.

Sunday, Nov. 13, gave us all an opportunity to turn me into we as the nation observed World Kindness Day, a 24-hour global campaign dedicated to paying it forward and focusing on the good. Empowered Flower Girl encourages you to engage – and engage youth – in activities that make a difference year round!

Make kindness go viral.

VolunTEEN Nation Helps Youth Discover Service Opportunities and Funding

simone-bVolunteers make a difference in communities across the country and around the world. Studies have shown that giving back through service can positively impact mental and physical health. If that’s the case, then Simone Bernstein is the poster child of wellness. Simone, 24, is the co-founder of VolunTEEN Nation, a comprehensive national organization designed to help youth and families find volunteer opportunities. She’s been an active volunteer in and around her community for more than a decade.

We had a chance to connect with the George Washington University Medical School student last month after stumbling upon volunTEENnation.org.

1. When you were in middle/high school, what were some of your volunteer experiences? I first started volunteering at my local library when I was in middle school. I helped check-out and shelve books. Through word-of-mouth I learned of other opportunities for teens in my community. Since I was interested in a career in medicine, when I was 16, I volunteered at the local VA Hospital. Having a variety of volunteer experiences helped me network, develop skills and explore career options. I realized that all youth can benefit from volunteering, but there were limited ways for teens to find opportunities. So in 2009, I created a regional website for youth to find and easily connect with volunteer opportunities in the St. Louis region. The interest from the regional website encouraged my brother and I launch a national website to engage youth throughout the nation in service.

2. As a medical student and nonprofit founder, how do you balance academics and altruism? Med school is challenging, so we are truly fortunate to have a great team of high school and college students that volunteer their time to organize, plan and lead events for volunTEENnation.org.

3. What advice would you give to teens or young adults who want to make a difference but don’t know where to start? Call non-profit organizations in your area and ask how you can help either on site or off site. For example, a homeless shelter could benefit from a personal hygiene products drive or food banks welcome a healthy food drive. Students can also offer to oversee the social media tasks like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for an organization.

Mentor Empowers Teens to Live Above Bullying, Drama and Societal Pressure with New Book

efg-angled-book-imageFrom cyberbullying to societal pressure, 21st century girls face challenges that generations before them may have never imagined. But they also have unlimited resources and opportunities to live powerfully.

Rasheda Kamaria Williams, an award-winning mentor and chief empowering officer for Empowered Flower Girl, explores how girls and young women can use their personal power to make a difference in her new book, “Be EmPOWERed: How to Live Above & Beyond Life’s Drama.”

Written for and inspired by girls, “Be EmPOWERed” is an interactive guidebook and journal packed with inspirational prose, thought-provoking questions and written activities.

Once teased and bullied by classmates for being weird and different, Rasheda found a way to embrace and ultimately celebrate her uniqueness.

The book reveals her journey from excluded to emPOWERed and how she got there with help from trusted adults, mentors, friends and ultimately herself.

“Life isn’t always easy or fair. But if you’re equipped with the right tools, it makes the process more meaningful,” Rasheda says.  “You can learn a lot – especially from yourself.”

“Be EmPOWERed: How to Live Above & Beyond Life’s Drama” is now available on Amazon.com.

A book release and 6-year anniversary celebration is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19 at Good Cakes and Bakes in Detroit. Admission is $15 and includes a copy of the book, sweet treats, a special gift and raffle ticket for prizes. Tickets are available here.

Born and raised in Detroit, Rasheda Kamaria Williams is a communications professional and award-winning mentor on a mission to transform the way young people relate to one another. She is the founder and chief empowering officer for Empowered Flower Girl, a social enterprise that works with schools, communities and families seeking solutions to cyberbullying, drama, relational aggression and other social/communications challenges facing youth. A survivor of bullying, Rasheda was featured in Cosmopolitan magazine in the article “Being bullied changed my life.” 

October is Bullying Prevention Month: Join us at these POWERful events

October is Bullying Prevention Month and Empowered Flower Girl will be out an about in the community connecting with youth and youth advocates to encourage acts of kindness and support for and among young people.

Join us at the following events this month:

Oct. 15 (Detroit)  – Commemorating Global Day of the Girl

Oct. 17 (Novi, MI) – Defeat the Label Community Conversation on Bullying

Oct. 22 (Kalamazoo, MI) – Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Literary Café

Oct. 25 (Detroit, MI) –  Giant Step Teen Conference

For additional news, events and inspiring content, be sure to connect with us via social media.

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