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She’s EmPOWERed: Meet the 15-year-old political journalist challenging bias in the media

For many people, finding your passion and purpose can take several years or even several decades. But not for Cassidy Conley. At only 15 years old, she is already making her mark as a political journalist. 

From copywriting in the government and advocacy sectors to curating content for her blog “Let’s Talk Politics,” Cassidy has a wealth of experience . . . and she’s just getting started.

“I found my passion in politics because I wanted to be part of the movement our nation is going through today. I didn’t want to sit idly by complaining about what our nation is doing wrong,” Cassidy said. “I combined my two passions and effectively used my voice for the better of people, especially women, like me; young and resilient.”

In addition to being young and resilient, Cassidy describes herself as funny, intriguing, fierce, bold, bright, joyful and helpful – all of which would make her a great candidate for political office someday. 

After high school, she plans to attend the University of Michigan, major in Public Policy and intern for her state representative’s staff team.

“My service is for the community. It is centered around the community. The whole purpose of my service is to give citizens the best resources and representation,” she said. “Our news resources are very biased, and it is not fair to the upcoming generation to take the brunt of the biased media.”

Finding Balance

Cassidy may be laser focused on her career, but she finds balance in other passions. 

“I love to impact people and help them in any way which is also a huge reason why I am stuck in politics, but other than that, I am a competitive figure skater.”

We are so proud of Cassidy and wish her much success in her life and career.

If you know a girl who is making an impact, tell us about her. We’re continually accepting submissions for She’s EmPOWERed. Learn more here

She’s EmPOWERed: Tulsa Teenpreneur Uses Greeting Cards to Inspire, Celebrate Girls of Color

Kolbi Lucas was introduced to the world of entrepreneurship as a tween after she noticed a lack of diversity in the greeting card industry. 

That introduction quickly became a passion when she discovered that she could also use her ideas to create and control her future. “I have received a lot of support from many girls and women who tell me that I have inspired them,” said Kolbi, 13. “Their words are affirming and make me feel like I am on the right path.”

That path was directed while Kolbi was out shopping for a birthday card for a friend. She realized there were very few cards with images of Black and Brown girls. 

So, at 10 years old, she started Kolbi’s Afromations – a company that designs handcrafted greeting cards and stationery.   
She hopes that her cards inspire, encourage, and affirm the beauty, intelligence and magic of being a Black girl.

Words of Encouragement
As a successful girlpreneur, Kolbi offers some encouraging advice to aspiring young business owners. 

“Be patient with your business. It is a process, and you won’t always see the success you want right away’” she said. “Prioritize your business by managing your time. As a business owner, you have to be willing to put in the time it takes to provide the best quality for your customers. Sometimes, this means sacrificing things you want to do, but in the end, it will help your business grow.”

Kolbi has aspirations of her own. After high school, she plans to attend NYU or Howard University and study art or fashion. The ambitious teen is interested in being a fashion designer, stylist, or chief editor for a high-end brand. She’s also interested in acting. 

We’re sure she will flourish in any career. Kudos to Kolbi!

Connect with Kolbi:
IG: Kolbis_afromations 
FB: Kolbi’s Afromations

EmPOWERing 21st Century Teens series addresses challenges and opportunities for youth and youth advocates

Empowered Flower Girl wants to support families and those who work with teens with a space to discuss the issues, challenges and opportunities their young relatives/students face in the 21st century.

In observance of May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, Empowered Flower Girl is hosting a FREE 3-week conversation series. If you’d like to participate as a guest panelist or if your organization provides resources to families of teens and preteens, email rkamaria@empoweredflowergirl.

The series will be streamed via Zoom and Facebook. Follow Empowered Flower Girl at www.facebook.com/empoweredflowergirl.

Schedule:
May 11, 18, 25 – 6 to 6:45 p.m. EDT
Zoom link: http://bit.ly/21stcenturyteens

Topics:
5.11 – Mentoring teens to live above bullying
5.18 – Intergenerational empathy
5.25 – Collaborating to support youth

She’s EmPOWERed: Community Service is a Family Affair for Virginia Sisters and NEST4US Founders

Service to the community is a strong value in the Venkat family household. So it’s no surprise that sisters Shreyaa and Esha are championing causes and inspiring others to do the same.

“Our mom would bring us along to volunteer at school and community events even back in elementary school,” said eldest sister, Shreyaa, 18. “That was when we were first introduced to the world of community service. The giving spirit has always been in our family for generations.”

The award-winning sisters believe it’s our responsibility as humans to give back to the people who need it the most. There are millions of people in the world that don’t have access to basic necessities like food and some don’t even have families or loved ones.

PURPOSE & PASSION

“This is proof that the world needs people to spark change and build a better future. So, we thought, why couldn’t that be us?” said younger sister, Esha, 15. That’s the inspiration behind why they formed NEST4US, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing volunteer solutions to the community to make the world better through kindness.

The sisters have made such an impact in their community and across the country that they have been honored with dozens of awards, including the George H.W. Bush Points of Light Award. This year, Shreyaa was selected for the Clinton Global Initiative University 2021 Cohort by the Clinton Foundation. Additionally, the girls were among the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth honorees and selected for the Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey.

It’s hard to imagine Shreyaa and Esha having time for anything else with all their NEST4US initiatives. But they do! These fierce founders are both travel soccer players, Kathak dancers, 3rd degree black belts, certified soccer referees and assistant martial arts instructors.

“Many people wonder, how do we manage to balance academics, extracurriculars and still keep time open in our schedules to give back consistently? Well, for us, we believe that you don’t need to have time, you should make the time to help others,” the sisters agreed.

ASPIRATIONS

Currently, Shreyaa is balancing her time as a freshman at Georgetown University majoring in Global Health studies. She aspires to enter the medical field and delve into healthcare management, through which she’ll continue providing aid to marginalized populations who lack equitable access to vital healthcare resources and treatments.

Esha, who is a high school student, is interested in studying neuroscience and/or computer science/animation when she goes to college. “Personally, I want to work in the neuroscience and technology field when I grow up, because I am interested in the brain and all things STEM,” she said.

You can keep up to date with all of the NEST4US initiatives and activities at www.nest4us.org.

Follow them at:

Facebook- @nest4us
Instagram- @joinnest
Twitter- @joinnest4

Helping Kids Manage Their Unique Pressures Starts by Being a Healthy Role Model

By Amanda Henderson

Being a child isn’t always easy. While it’s true that there are few decisions to make in the early years, children learn to make decisions later on by watching their parents. If you are a positive role model, you will empower your kids to be healthy and independent adults.

The Pressures of Today

Kids today are under more pressure than ever. Our youth — especially teenage girls — deal with issues that we never did. Social media is an especially difficult hurdle for young girls to handle, and it unfairly puts ridiculous expectations on how they should look, act, and befriend.

Be EmPOWERed is a great book to read as a parent and to share with your daughter. It will walk you through Rasheda’s heart-wrenching journey through her victory of how she learned how to embrace all of the beautiful things that made her different.

It is not just girls that have to live up to an unrealistic standard either. Once young people enter college — and even before — they may experience what the Child Mind Institute calls “duck syndrome.” This is essentially a way to describe the turmoils that people are dealing with individually without letting the world see. It references how waterfowl seemed to glide without obstacles on the water while, under the surface, they must kick violently to stay afloat.

How You Can Encourage a Healthy Reality

As a parent, teacher, camp counselor, or other type of caretaker, you can model behaviors that will serve as a life-long example for the children in your life. Doing things, such as refusing to live up to social media standards and embracing your own reality will go a long way toward encouraging kids to do the same.

The online world is not the only place that you can model a healthy adult life. In the real world, talk to your children early about the future. Let them know that there is nothing stopping them from pursuing the life they desire. To do this, however, you need to live your own reality and take your own advice. If you are stuck in a go-nowhere job, look inside for the courage to go back to school.

Let’s say that you wanted to be a software systems architect in high school but chose an easier path. You can take an online computer science course now and earn a degree so that you can master your professional earning capacity. Plus, you’ll be following your dreams, and your children will see that you face your fears and overcome them.

Other ways to encourage healthy habits in children include:

Get plenty of sleep. Teenagers are especially prone to forgoing bedtime so that they can finish homework or stay up late to chat with their friends. While both academics and socializing are crucial to their development, teach them that their health is also important by creating an environment that encourages everyone to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Don’t bow to peer pressure. We tend to think peer pressure is something that only affects those under 18. This is absolutely not true, and adults are often faced with decisions to make based on behaviors by their friends and acquaintances. Remember, you don’t have to go out every weekend even if your divorced friends are. By prioritizing what’s important to you and not bowing to everyone else’s whims, you show your child that it’s okay to be independent and follow their heart instead of the crowd.

Obviously, this is not a full guide on how to be a role model for your children. But living your own reality and encouraging healthy habits are a great start. Remember, everything you do now will be embedded in your children’s brains and will become the map for their own adult life. Children will do as you do, not as you say, so make the most of your behaviors. All eyes are on you.

About the author

Amanda enjoys writing in her freetime, and recently decided to create safechildren.info

How a Cosmopolitan magazine article changed my life

In March of 2011, I responded to a media query I received via HARO – also known as Help A Reporter Out. I had been subscribed to HARO a few years and used it mostly for work. 

The query was from an editor who was seeking sources for an article for Cosmopolitan magazine. The publication sought young women who were bullied, growing up. The editor passed my information along to the reporter assigned to the story. 

After a few back and forth emails, the reporter asked if I was free for a phone interview in the next few days. After completing the phone interview and going through the fact-checking process, the article was published in May of 2011.

The article ran just under a year after I had launched Empowered Flower Girl. It helped us get our first 250 followers on Facebook and Twitter. It also helped us secure additional media coverage and boosted our credibility in the community as a new social enterprise. 

People were just getting to know us, so having a national publication like Cosmopolitan magazine feature you is definitely something that could help your reputation. 

It was a great experience for me starting out. As someone who works in communications and media relations, I know the value and importance of sharing your story, and the difference that it can make in the lives of others who read it. 

I encourage people, especially nonprofit founders, social entrepreneurs and others who are making or aspire to make a difference, to not be shy about sharing their experiences and expertise. 

I’ve helped numerous clients get the recognition they deserve, through publicity and awards, which also translates to funding and increased enrollment in your programs. So if you are looking for additional help in getting the word out about your organization or initiative, let’s talk.

Later this spring we will be launching our Unknown to Renowned workshop. If you’d like to get on the mailing list to receive additional information, sign up here and follow our social media accounts at @empoweredflowergirl.

Empowered Flower Girl to host EmPOWERing Conversations in honor of Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month. During this time, the nation honors and celebrates the achievements and contributions of women to our society as well as brings awareness to disparities and challenges girls and women face.

Empowered Flower Girl will host “EmPOWERing Conversations: Inspiring Sisterhood” to engage women across generations to discuss the value and benefits of friendships.

Despite what popular media depicts, most girls desire drama-free relationships with one another. But they may lack the courage and confidence to spark the conversations that lead to these fulfilling friendships.

Join us on March 9th and 10th from 6 to 7 p.m. EST when we will have powerful conversations with women and girls about the value and benefits of sisterhood, how we can transform our relationship realities and resources to support girls’ positive development. Empowered Flower Girl’s Rasheda Kamaria Williams will moderate the discussions. Guest speakers include:

MARCH 9

  • Alicia McKay, owner/executive director, No Fear Cafe
  • Keisha Montfleury, confidence coach for girls, HandiWork LLC

MARCH 10

  • Chantia Thompson, owner/wellbeing coach, Good Vibz Yoga
  • Shaaree McCalpine, owner/mental health therapist, Faith Soars Counseling and Consulting
  • TeQuion Brookins, philanthropist, social entrepreneur and principal consultant, TeQuionBrookins.com

The conversations will be streamed via Zoom and Facebook. Follow Empowered Flower Girl at www.facebook.com/empoweredflowergirl.

She’s EmPOWERed: Ohio social entrepreneur educates girls on how to be beautiful from the inside out

Leah Berdysz is a young woman on a mission. She’s an educator, social entrepreneur, up-and-coming author and girl-power enthusiast.

The founder of Empowered & Poised (E&P), Leah works to empower and educate girls on how to be beautiful from the inside out through discovery of social, mental and physical components.

Her previous work with youth as a physical education teacher, babysitter and party motivator for Rock the House Entertainment prepared her to launch E&P as well as write her upcoming book Conscious Empowerment: A Guide to Helping Girls Build Self-Esteem & Confidence.

“Founding this organization, writing my upcoming book and obtaining my master’s degree in social work were inspired by the struggles I’ve faced with anxiety and body image. I recognized that I was not the only one struggling with self-esteem and confidence,” Leah said. “Therefore, I made it my mission to make a difference in the community and support young girls in their growth and development towards becoming strong and capable women.” 

Girls definitely have a strong and capable role model in Leah. At 25 years old, she has numerous achievements to her name and she’s just getting started. She has advice for aspiring changemakers, social impact heroes and entrepreneurs. 

“Being a girlpreneur or social entrepreneur can be challenging, but it’s SO worth it. Surround yourself with a supportive tribe, and don’t give up when it gets hard. You can do it!” she exclaimed.

Learn more about Empowered & Poised at www.empoweredandpoised.com. Be sure to follow Leah via social media at @empoweredpoised and @itsleahbee.

The Transformative Power of Mentoring

After all they experienced in 2020, children and young adults across the globe can use an extra helping of support and empathy. 

Twenty-first century students face a number of challenges – from societal pressure and family obligations to financial hardships and mental health crises. 

Coping with all of this, especially for those who lack support, can be difficult. 

That’s why mentors are needed. 

As a mentor, you have the potential to change the trajectory of someone’s life, including your own. 

My life was forever changed when I responded to an ad an organization placed in the local newspaper seeking mentors for girls in its after-school program. I was a college senior at the time facing numerous challenges myself. 

I became a mentor as a way to shift the focus from my pain and trauma to help others. I was healed in the process. At the time, I was experiencing depression and PTSD after losing two close relatives. While meeting with my mentees had a positive impact for them, the experience saved my life. 

A big heart and a little time

Whether formal or informal, your mentoring relationship can have a tremendous impact, even if you spend just an hour a week connecting with your mentee virtually.

Young people who need mentors:

  • First generation college students
  • Youth in or aging out of foster care
  • Youth with an incarcerated parent
  • Low-income/homeless youth and young adults
  • Refugees
  • LGBTQ youth

MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership found that students who have a mentor are more likely to stay in school, attend college, volunteer, hold positions of leadership and become mentors themselves.

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor but not sure if you have what it takes, answer these questions: 1. Do you have a big heart? 2. Do you have a little time? If yes and yes, then you’ve got this. 

At the end of the day, you don’t need a fancy job title or curio cabinet full of plaques and medals to make a difference for young people. 

Still unsure if mentoring is right for you? Download Empowered Flower Girl’s FREE Mentoring Guide for busy professionals. Ready to become a mentor? Check out the MENTOR search tool to locate a program near you.

Rasheda Kamaria Williams is an award-winning mentor, mentoring consultant and chief empowering officer for Empowered Flower Girl, a social enterprise that empowers youth and youth advocates to live above life’s drama to make a difference. Connect with her at www.rashedakamaria.com.

Empowered Flower Girl to Host “Be the Impact” Service-Learning Training and If I Were President Campaign

On January 20, U.S. citizens will inaugurate their 46th president. And while presidents and other elected officials serve their country as leaders and policymakers, they aren’t the only ones who can affect change.  

Ordinary people make extraordinary contributions to our society every day.  

Empowered Flower Girl (EFG) is inviting youth and youth advocates to explore the impact they can have and the difference they can make regardless of age or occupation. 

As a social enterprise dedicated to helping young people live above life’s drama to make a POWERful difference, EFG will host “Be the Impact,” a virtual service-learning training and introduction to our “If I Were President” campaign.  

“We will explore ways youth can tackle and solve issues in their communities as well as support and resources available to them,” said Rasheda Kamaria Williams, chief empowering officer for Empowered Flower Girl.  

The campaign will culminate with an “inauguration” event on MLK Day, January 18, 2021, where participants will share their ideas and celebrate and support one another to make them a reality. 

Two participants will be randomly selected during the inauguration to receive a $100 gift card in honor of their ideas to make a difference in their communities. 

The training and inauguration event are being hosted as part of Youth Service America’s MLK Day of Service initiative. Empowered Flower Girl was among eight Michigan-based organizations awarded a grant from the Michigan Service Squad to carry out service-learning trainings and projects in honor of Dr. King’s legacy.  

Be the Impact Training 

Monday, January 4 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET 

www.betheimpacttraining.eventbrite.com