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.

Don’t let money stop you: Get funding for your program

Want to start a STEM program for your kindergarten class or host a financial literacy night for teens and parents in your community? If your school, community organization or house of workshop can use some extra funding to support extracurricular programming, then you should definitely check out this resource.

As a youth development practitioner, I’m always reading to keep my skill set current and relevant. Youth Today is my go-to publication for everything related to adolescents. The bi-monthly independent newspaper has a special section full of current grants.

If you need money and resources for your project, having this resource is a must.

Check out these available grants:

http://youthtoday.org/series/available-grants/

Youth Resource Summit connects the dots among Detroit-area youth service providers

Youth Resource Summit
Detroit-area youth service providers gathered Memorial Day weekend for the first annual Youth Resource Summit, hosted by Better Detroit Youth Movement(BDYM) and ARISE Detroit.

Representatives from dozens of youth-serving organizations exchanged ideas for better supporting youth and families.

BDYM’s R. Lee Gordon unveiled details of the Resource Alert Project (RAP), an online tool to connect young people to programs, events and resources to help support their development.

 

Mentoring Girls & Inspiring Sisterhood

Event celebrates women, addresses issues impacting girls

March is Women’s History Month and Empowered Flower Girl LLC is inviting a diverse group of women to network and celebrate sisterhood while addressing the issues that impact girls and young women.

“Mentoring Girls & Inspiring Sisterhood,” is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, at the Skyline Club, 2000 Town Center in Southfield. The event is the third in the Inspired Professionals Series, which gives civic- and community-minded individuals a chance to connect with others who care about kids and learn about opportunities to make a difference.

“Mentoring Girls & Inspiring Sisterhood” features a preview of the documentary Redefining Beauty, chronicling the lives of Detroit-area girls who candidly share their fears, dreams, challenges and hopes.

“Our goal is to promote the power of sisterhood and encourage women to celebrate themselves and each other,” said EFG Chief Empowering Officer Rasheda Kamaria, a Royal Oak resident. “We want to make sure that our girls have positive role models to help them as they transition into womanhood.”

Attendees will be pampered and treated to appetizers, a drink ticket, and fabulous giveaways. Tickets are $25.

The first 25 guests to RSVP will receive a special gift. Register with the Skyline Club at 248-350-9898.

Mentoring Girls Flyer Invite

 

Empowered Flower Girl offers esteem, empathy building workshps for schools and communities

Girls fight

Are you an educator, parent or mentor who cares about the wellbeing and livelihood of young people in your community? Are you concerned that they may be missing out on an inspired life because of challenges at school, at home or among their peer groups?

Those questions arise for many adults who work with youth. That’s why in 2010, Empowered Flower Girl was launched.

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. But I knew that in order to help those students who were bullied and harassed, I had to find a way to also help those who were the aggressors or perpetrators.

The prevention and treatment of bullying in both perpetrators and victims is vitally important.

Cognitive-behavioral interventions have shown effectiveness across educational environments, disability types, ethnicity, and gender.

Empowered Flower Girl’s programs equip youth with problem-solving techniques and encourage transformation and acceptance.

Ultimately, we believe that if students are equipped with the skills to peacefully and effectively problem solve as well as have the capacity for empathy, then they are less likely to be offenders of bullying, hazing or other disruptive behaviors.

Empowered Flower Girl offers engaging and interactive workshops and programs that inspire and entertain youth, teachers, parents and the community.

From workshops combating teasing, cyberbullying and cliques, to programs encouraging goal-setting and self-esteem, Empowered Flower Girl helps schools and organizations address critical social issues.

Schedule your workshop today!

info@empoweredflowergirl.com

248-629-0EFG

My mentoring success story

Jordan and I during an outing to Greenfield Village

Meeting your mentee and her family for the first time can be an intimidating experience.  You conjure up all kinds of scenarios in your head – a disgruntled kid, who is resistant or a suspicious parent, who questions your every move. These circumstances may play out like a drama in your mind’s eye. Thankfully, none of those happened for me. In fact, my experience was the opposite.

It’s been four years since I was introduced to my mentee Jordan. To this day, we’re still learning from each other. She’s an inquisitive, mature and friendly 12 year old. Being a mentor is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had since graduating college. Interestingly enough, I became a mentor for Alternatives for Girls during my senior year at Wayne State University.

Jordan’s mom Carmelita had this to say about our mentor/mentee relationship:

Jordan and I four years ago at our first group outing

“Having a mentor has introduced Jordan to different activities and experiences. She’s grown so much because of it. You all have done things together that I haven’t had the opportunity to do because of my unpredictable work schedule,” she says. “She looks at you like a big sister. She’s always excited and looks forward to the next meeting.”

Still not sure about mentoring?

Here are a few insights that may help you:

– You don’t have to be rich or famous or have super powers. Honestly, you don’t even have to be employed to be a good mentor. Kids just want to know you care.

– Most youth seeking mentors are good kids. While some youth may come from troubled backgrounds, many of them come from stable home environments. They may have challenges in school or socially. All children are different. Get to know them.

– If you have a big heart and a little time, then you’re a great candidate. Sometimes, a phone call is all it takes to make a difference.

When you feel inspired to pay it forward, consider donating your time to a young person. Visit www.mentoring.org for additional resources.

 

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