Be the change. Inspire sisterhood

After facilitating Chica Chat workshops for the past three and half years, I noticed a common desire among participants: Girls actually want positive, cordial relationships with other girls.

However some don’t feel confident enough to break the ice. They have a desire to create lasting bonds, but fear vulnerability. Results of our surveys show that the higher girls’ ability in expressing their feelings to others the more likely they are to have satisfaction in friendships.

Who can blame them for their hesitation when popular reality TV shows depict women as drama queens engaged in cat fights, backstabbing and other devious behaviors.

But there’s hope. We can transform the way girls and young women relate to one another. We can be mentors and positive role models. We can turn off the TV and have real conversations with the girls and young women in our lives. We can surround ourselves with uplifting, encouraging and authentic people.

It starts with us.

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.