Beyond Bullying Prevention: The end of bullying begins with empathy and compassion

End of BullyingBy Rasheda Kamaria

Empowered Flower Girl aims to inspire, entertain and empower youth, communities and families with our programs and online content. This month, National Bullying Prevention Month, I want to go a little further. I want to challenge everyone who reads this post to reach out to a young person and have an authentic conversation about . . . whatever. But what I challenge you to do more than anything, is listen.

Perhaps you’ve read recent headlines about the 14-year-old Florida boy, who after being “bullied his whole life,” committed suicide. Media outlets across the nation reported that the Greenwood Lakes Middle School student’s lifeless body was found in the school’s bathroom. He and his family had reportedly moved from New York to Florida because of bullying.

My heart aches and breaks. Not only for this young man but also for the countless others that we may know or have read about this year who have taken their lives to escape the agony of being harassed and taunted daily. Perhaps us as community leaders, educators, parents and everyday citizens can listen more to our children (and by our children I mean all children).

I believe it’s time we shift from bullying prevention to encouraging and instilling empathy, compassion and acceptance in schools, communities and families.

Rasheda Kamaria is the chief empowering officer and founder of Empowered Flower Girl LLC, a social enterprise that works with schools, communities and families seeking solutions to cyberbullying, drama, relational aggression and other social/communication challenges facing youth. A survivor of bullying, Kamaria was featured in the article “Being Bullied Changed My Life” in the May 2011 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine and has spoken and written numerous articles on the subject.

A Year in Review: Empowered Flower Girl immersed in the community

For Empowered Flower Girl, 2013 has been an eventful and inspiring year. Over the past 11 months, EFG has had the honor of facilitating workshops and programs throughout southeastern Michigan and Lansing. Approximately 225 girls and women participated in our Chica Chat and Mentoring Girls & Inspiring Sisterhood workshops.

Thanks to Detroit SOUP, we were able to offer Chica Chats to a diverse group of girls and young women, including teenagers struggling with challenging behaviors and addictions. Over the summer, we partnered with Detroit Parent Network to host the first Community Chica Chat.

We also celebrated our three-year anniversary with friends, family and supporters, including Detroit City Council President Saunteel Jenkins.

I’d like to thank everyone who attended an event, recommended us to a friend, “liked” us on social media or sent positive energy. Your support helps us help girls and young women live POWERfully.

Empowered Flower Girl’s reach and impact in 2013:

Workshops

Hazel Park Middle School of Hazel Park, Mich.
Reach Academy of Roseville, Mich.
Serenity Program at Capstone Academy
Family Literacy Night, Detroit Parent Network
I Feel Good: Mind, Body & Soul Women’s Conference
I am Woman Expo
Parenting Awareness Michigan Conference
Women’s Weekend at Citadel of Praise

Media

Girl’s Life Magazine
Black America Web
Tenacity Radio
C and G News
ColorBlind Magazine
BLAC Magazine
Metro Parent Magazine
CBS Detroit

Cyberbullying prevention starts at home

Reported incidences cyberbullying are all too common in the Digital Age. Even kindergartners have access to a world of information in the palm of their hands thanks to smartphones and other mobile devices.

While schools and communities across the nation are implementing programs to curb in-school and online harassment, prevention ultimately starts at home.

With the increase in bullycides and bullying-related illnesses over the years, parents should be aware of and engaged in their children’s online activities.

Tweens and teens may consider it snooping, but Rasheda Kamaria, Empowered Flower Girl CEO, considers it conscious parenting.

“Informed parents are better able to help their children identify safe spaces online and avoid those that are potentially harmful,” she said.

Knowing which social networks and electronic communications tools are out there and which ones your children are actively engaging in is the first step. A study from Wayne State University’s College of Nursing, which surveyed nearly 400 metro Detroit youth ages 10 to 18, found that on average, youth spend two hours a day online and send 189 text messages. Additionally, some youth reported having up to 25 email accounts.

Jemica Carter, Ph.D., who co-authored the WSU study with associate professor Feleta Wilson, Ph.D., recommends parents get tech savvy.

“Some parents are unintentionally unaware of their children’s online patterns because they may not have access to the same technology or have challenges using it. Many community organizations and libraries offer free or low-cost computer and social media training for adults,” she said. “Education is the first line of prevention.”

The following are additional tips to help parents prevent and address cyberbullying:

Ask questions. Take an active role by inquiring about your child’s relationships with peers on and off line.  Most children won’t volunteer the information. Parents should ask specific, preferably open-ended questions to get their children to open up.

Host a tech-free family night. Ditch the cell phones, laptops and tablets for dinner and conversation. For some teens, talking face-to-face may seem old-fashioned but it’s a great way for families to connect. It also reduces the temptation to go online.

Be a role model. Parents are their children’s first teacher and play an important role in influencing appropriate online behavior. Parents should be conscious of what they’re posting on social networks and make an extra effort to use technology responsibly.

Overall, the entire community – parents, schools, community groups, faith-based organizations – play an important role in preventing and ending cyberbullying.

Girls learn art of self-expression during Community Chica Chat

When asked what’s the most important lesson learned during the Thursday, June 13th Community Chica Chat, one confident 13 year old said “don’t be afraid to express yourself.”

That was one of the goals of the two-hour workshop facilitated by Empowered Flower Girl CEO and Founder Rasheda Kamaria.

“Chica Chat is all about promoting sisterhood while empowering girls’ self expression, uniqueness and personal power,” said Kamaria, who founded the social enterprise in 2010. “The cyberbullying, drama and cliques are just the side effect of a bigger issue – the lack of communication skills and tools.”

Nearly 25 girls participated in the workshop held in partnership with Detroit Parent Network. Earlier this year, Kamaria received a $2,100 grant to support Empowered Flower Girl and its workshops/programs.

In addition to the Community Chica Chat, Empowered Flower Girl has hosted two workshops at Capstone Academy, a program for adjudicated adolescent girls ages 12-19.

On Aug. 17, Kamaria will facilitate a mini Chica Chat as part of the “I Feel Good: Mind, Body & Soul” women’s conference.

For more information about the event visit www.superwomanproductions.com.

Learn more about Empowered Flower Girl’s workshops and programs at www.empoweredflowergirl.com.

Images courtesy of Bontisha Rose Photography

 

 

Empowered Flower Girl hosts Chica Chat in partnership with Detroit Parent Network

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Workshop to address cyberbullying, drama and cliques among middle, high school girls

 

DETROIT – In an effort to combat cyberbullying, drama and “mean girl” behavior and inspire positive relationships among middle and high school students, Empowered Flower Girl will host its signature Chica Chat workshop – in partnership with Detroit Parent Network.

 

The two-hour workshop, scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 13, 2013, is open to girls 10-16 years old throughout the metro Detroit area.

 

“Our goal is to empower girls and young women with the tools to communicate effectively,” said Rasheda Kamaria, chief empowering officer and founder of Empowered Flower Girl. “The workshop provides them with a safe, judgment-free and supportive environment where they can express themselves fully while getting to know other girls.”

 

Earlier this year, Empowered Flower Girl received a grant from Detroit SOUP, a micro-funding organization, to offer the workshop to three Detroit schools and a nonprofit organization free of charge.

“We’re excited to offer Chica Chat in Detroit,” Kamaria said. “I grew up in the city. I was bullied and picked on throughout middle school and can relate to what young people are experiencing. Prevention is our priority.”

 

In order to participate, youth must have their parent’s or guardian’s permission.

 

Register through June 6 at chicachat.eventbrite.com. For more information about Empowered Flower Girl, visit empoweredflowergirl.com.

 

Rasheda Kamaria is the chief empowering officer and founder of Empowered Flower Girl LLC, a social enterprise that produces workshops and clothing that inspire girls and young women to live powerfully. A survivor of bullying, Kamaria was featured in the article “Being Bullied Changed My Life” in the May 2011 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine and has written numerous articles on the subject.

 

Chica Chat combats girl bullying

Chica Chat at a Glance

When: Thursday, June 13, 2013; 5 to 7 p.m.

Where: Detroit Parent Network, 726 Lothrop Rd., Detroit

Contact: Rasheda Kamaria, info@empoweredflowergirl.com

Cost: Free; advance registration is required

Empowered Flower Girl receives $2,100 to fund workshops in Detroit schools

Hazel Park students write empowering messages to girls during Chica Chat.

Empowered Flower Girl (EFG), a company that produces workshops and programs to inspire girls and young women to live powerfully, received more than $2,100 to fund Chica Chat workshops in Detroit schools and communities.

Detroit SOUP, which gives micro-grants to creative social entrepreneurs, hosted its three-year anniversary and monthly pitch session on Sunday, Feb. 10. After receiving majority of the crowd votes, EFG took home the cash donation.

“The support from the community was overwhelming and heartfelt,” said Rasheda Kamaria, EFG chief empowering officer and founder. “It’s encouraging to meet people who are making a difference in and around Detroit. I am truly inspired by all of the positive energy and people in this city. I look forward to working with local schools to bring the Chica Chats to the students.”

Over the next month, Kamaria will work with the community to identify schools that would benefit from hosting a Chica Chat session. The workshop fosters positive and empowering relationships among girls and young women. Participants have the opportunity to be self-expressed, heard and understood by their peers and adult mentors in a supportive, safe and accepting environment.  Additionally, girls learn the art of networking by participating in fun and engaging ice-breaking activities and have the opportunity to ask questions anonymously that are answered by their peers with facilitation by adult mentors.

On Wednesday, Jan. 30, EFG teamed up with Hazel Park Junior High to host a Chica Chat. Nearly 40 sixth through eighth graders participated in the event.

For more information or to suggest a school, email rkamaria@empoweredflowergirl.com or call 248-629-0EFG. Kamaria also is looking to partner with a local mentoring or nonprofit organization to host a community-wide Chica Chat for girls in the city and suburbs late this spring.

 

Empowered Flower Girl Workshops for Schools & Communities

Booking spring and summer workshops!

Rasheda speaks with Communicating with Confidence workshop participant.

Empowered Flower Girl Chief Empowering Officer Rasheda Kamaria invites schools and community organizations throughout southeast Michigan and beyond to book an empowering workshop this school year.

Kamaria delivers engaging content that inspires youth, teachers, parents and the community. From workshops combating teasing, cyberbullying and drama, to programs encouraging goal-setting and career exploration, Empowered Flower Girl can helps schools and organizations address critical social issues in a way that empowers and entertains.

 

Workshops include:

  • Chica Chat – Empowered Flower Girl’s most popular workshop which fosters positive and empowering relationships among girls and young women. The two-hour program ultimately aims to combat teasing cyberbullying, girl drama and cliques. Participants have the opportunity to be self expressed, heard and understood by their peers and adult mentors in a supportive, safe and accepting environment.  Activities challenge stereotypes and “mean girl” behavior.
  • Goal Setting through Vision Boards – This workshop takes arts and crafts time to a new level. Participants learn the art of positive thinking and visualization as a method of goal setting. Each participant leaves with a vision board.
  • Communicating with Confidence –Teens learn new and effective ways to communicate with diverse audiences including the general public, potential funders and the media. The interactive workshop includes networking, mock interviews and an impromptu “talk show” culminating the training.

 

Empowered Flower Girl workshops are cost-effective for schools and nonprofits and are offered for as little at $5-10 per participant. As a social venture, Empowered Flower Girl is dedicated to supporting the community and gives back 25% of all merchandise sales to schools and organizations during cause campaigns throughout the year.

For more information or to book your workshop, email rkamaria@empoweredflowergirl.com or call 248-629-0334.

“The Communicating with Confidence workshop was fun, informative and engaging.  The girls really enjoyed the hands-on activities.  We received such positive feedback from the girls.  This was a learning experience they will truly remember.” Tonya Weary, Founder of Young Entrepreneurs Series