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

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 Announces Holiday Promo for Girl World Peace Academy

Empowered Flower Girl (EFG) wants to help as many youth advocates as possible connect with and engage young people to live above life’s drama and uplift and support one another. This year has been a challenge for young people – in particular, girls. Recent reports have shown that girls are being harassed online at alarming rates. Additionally, incidences of hate speech and homophobia also are on the rise. 

But young people who have strong support systems are fairing well. Those who are enrolled in mentoring, afterschool and other SEL programs are learning vital life skills. 

If you want to help youth by launching your own program or leveling up an existing one, we’d love to have you join our GIRL WORLD PEACE ACADEMY

Girl World Peace Academy is Empowered Flower Girl’s self-guided virtual course providing teachers, after-school professionals and other youth advocates tips, tools and strategies to inspire sisterhood, increase self-esteem and encourage empathy among middle and high school girls. The course includes one-on-one coaching as well as video lessons covering topics ranging from empowering 21st century girls to no-cost tools to publicize and fund your programs.

Why focus on girls?

After facilitating bullying prevention and empathy boosting programs for a decade, we’ve observed:

  • Girls often exclude each other because they really don’t know each other.
  • On and offline conflict can adversely impact classroom dynamics and student performance.
  • Educators, who often are overwhelmed with conflict and drama in the classroom, may lack additional support and resources to address and solve it.

Additionally, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that girls are three times as likely as boys to be victims of cyberbullying and online harassment.

“At the end of the day, most girls actually want positive, friendly relationships with one another. However, some don’t feel confident enough to break the ice. They have a desire to create lasting bonds, but sometimes lack the tools,” said Rasheda Kamaria Williams, chief empowering officer and founder of EFG. “Our goal is to help youth advocates breakdown barriers, build trust and develop an authentic connection with students that ultimately inspires peace in classrooms and communities.”

Learn more and register at www.rashedakamaria.com/girlworldpeace. Get $100 off enrollment through 1.1.21 as part of our holiday promo.

She’s EmPOWERed: Seattle sisters’ Joys of Giving working to bring educational equity to all

Vanesha Hari, 14, and sister Varshini Hari, 12, are an inspiration for anyone who has ever seen or experienced something they thought was unfair and took action to change it. 

As young children, they would often visit family in India. While there, they observed young girls working to help their families with basic needs but not attending school. They noticed this was a pattern in many households.  

“We started asking our parents and grandparents how this could be fair,” Vanesha said. “Back in Seattle, while helping our mother with a local fundraiser to assist the women’s homeless shelter and children in foster homes, it really hit us that suffering and unfortunate situations existed in several avenues and many needed help.”

The girls wanted to do something to make a difference. And in 2016, Joys of Giving was born. The organization focuses on bringing global educational equity to everyone, especially to the underserved.

Vanesha and Varshini are passionate about the work they do in their community and encourage other youth to think about how they want to make an impact.

“We believe everything starts with passion, Varshini said. “So, before you start a nonprofit, connect and identify with a cause that you really want to support and figure out how you want to bring about a change. Every effort starts out small, but it’s the persistence, passion and hard work that will always bring any initiative to life!” 

The Joys of Giving offers free workshops to youth across the country and around the world. The organization started offering virtual workshops over the summer in response to COVID-19. Joys of Giving has facilitated approximately eight workshops teaching the basics of computer science, coding, baking and other STEM topics reaching more than 150 youth.

According to their mother Shalini, the girls have raised over $15,000 to support partner organizations working towards a great cause. “They have inspired many young kids to give back and find a greater purpose in their lives,” Shalini said. 

Learn more about Joys of Giving and their upcoming workshops like “Intro to Python and Graphic Design Art” on Oct. 17 and “Fall Baking: Apple Pie Thumbprint Cookies” on Oct. 24 by visiting www.joysofgiving.org. You can also find them on social media: Instagram @joysofgivingpnw, Facebook @joysofgivingseattle.

She’s EmPOWERed: Empowered Flower Girl salutes girls making an impact

There are kids in our communities and around the world tackling issues and championing causes – from climate change and racism to access to education and homelessness. Although it’s our job as adults to pave the way and solve these problems, I am still inspired by the courage, dedication and commitment of children and teens globally. 

Empowered Flower Girl is committed to showcasing youth making a positive difference and those who are using their gifts to bring joy to others.

Do you know a young social entrepreneur or change maker (who identifies as female) from 5 to 25, let us know. We’ll highlight her in the next issue of Be EmPOWERed. Email rkamaria@empoweredflowergirl.com.

Parental consent will be required for those under 18.

Make sure you sign up to receive the Be EmPOWERed newsletter!

Chica Chat: Imagining Girl World Peace

Do you want girl world peace in your school/community?

Imagine the day where exclusion, apathy and relational aggression no longer exist. It’s all possible if youth are engaged and equipped with the right tools.

Designed for middle and high school students, Chica Chat promotes sisterhood and gives girls the tools to transforms the they relate to one another.

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 break down barriers by participating in fun and engaging ice-breaking activities and have the opportunity to ask questions anonymously that are answered by their peers with guidance by facilitators.

Why Chica Chat?

In our 10 years of facilitating bullying prevention and esteem building programs, we’ve noticed:

  • On and offline conflict adversely impact classroom dynamics and student performance.
  • Girls often exclude each other because they really don’t know each other.
  • Girls who are confident in expressing their own feelings are typically more empathetic toward others.

Why Empowered Flower Girl?

  • 98% of Chica Chat participants found the workshop content helpful or very helpful.
  • EFG founder and chief empowering officer Rasheda Kamaria Williams has more than 15 years’ experience as a mentor and youth empowerment speaker.

But don’t just take our word. Here’s what educators/youth advocates have to say:

“We were experiencing a lot of drama with our middle school girls. Our girls needed a structured and safe environment to learn and express themselves. The Chica Chat allowed them to do so. I received positive feedback afterward and even felt the climate change a bit. One girl even said ‘I actually squashed some beef from that.’ Hearing that, made me very happy.”  – Alaina Evans, Teacher, Laurus Academy 

“The workshop provides students a forum to talk about issues that are important to them. The workshop also allows young ladies to freely express their feelings without being judged or embarrassed”. – Bianca Heath, Student Family Liaison, Reach Academy

Are you ready and able to invest in transforming the climate in your school or community? If so, let’s work together. Schedule your consultation today. Email rkamaria@empoweredflowergirl.com or fill out the form below. 

Join the Conversation: Let’s talk about bullying

Transformation often starts with a conversation. When individuals unite to create dialogue, they set the tone for positive change.

That is the premise of Defeat the Label’s (DTL) Community Conversation on Bullying. Over the past four years, DTL has hosted the event during National Bullying Prevention Month- a time when organizations, youth and youth advocates create heightened awareness of the issue and work toward interventions and solutions.

“Since we hosted the first Community Conversation, one thing that has shifted is that bullying continues to be taken more seriously by schools, parents and the community,” said DTL Executive Director Jamie Greene. “When we started this, even though it was in the not so recent past, there was still a feeling of ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me’ from many adults. Now, we are realizing the drastic and sometimes even deadly impact, that bullying can result in.”

Cyberbullying is a major concern

A 2018 Pew Research Survey found majority of teens have experienced some form of cyberbullying. Nearly 60% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online, and many say it’s a major problem for people their age.

A vast majority of teens (90%) believe online harassment is a problem that affects people their age. Unfortunately, many of the young people surveyed think key groups, such as teachers, social media companies and politicians are failing at tackling the issue.

But the good news is that teens think parents are doing a better job in addressing cyberbullying.

Greene recommends that parents continue to have open conversations with their children about bullying.

“Make sure that we are all speaking the same language about what is bullying and what isn’t bullying and how (young people) can recognize bullying behavior, not only directed to themselves, but also towards their peers.”

Join the conversation
WHEN:
October 24, 2019; 8:30 am – 2:30 pm
WHERE: Oakland Schools Conference Center, 2111 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford Township, MI
REGISTRATION: $25; RSVP at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-conversation-on-bullying-tickets-49907633074

Detroit area teens, women tell their “Girl Story”

Girls are powerful and have the potential to change the world. But sometimes they face challenges along their journey.

On Saturday, Oct. 12 – just a day after the observance of International Day of the Girl – Cinema Detroit (located at 4126 Third Street in Detroit) will host a screening of the “My Girl Story” documentary followed by a community forum. The documentary chronicles the lives of two African-American girls in Detroit who give a glimpse into what life is like for 21st century teens in the city.

The “My Girl Story” community forum will focus on empowering and increasing opportunities for girls of color and their peers who are coping with disabilities, depression, peer pressure and other social challenges. The forum will bring together a range of stakeholders from the academic, private, government and philanthropic sectors to discuss ways that we can break down barriers to success and create more ladders of understanding and opportunity for all girls.

“We need to listen to our young women when they talk, especially if something is bothering them,” said Tameka Citchen-Spruce, “My Girl Story” producer and disability justice advocate. “While they’re going through ups and downs in life, being there emotionally and showing you care can help them through the teenage years.”

Tickets to the event are FREE but registration is required via Eventbrite.

Empowered Flower Girl is proud to have facilitated the Chica Chat workshop featured in the documentary. Chief Empowering Officer Rasheda Kamaria Williams will be among the panelists during the community forum.