Educators and parents, mentors and coaches all care about the wellbeing and livelihood of young people in our communities. We are well aware that twenty-first century tweens and teens face unprecedented challenges that many of us may have never imagined, from cyberbullying, drama, trauma and immense societal pressure.
But to combat these challenges, I was inspired to do something.
Nearly 15 years ago, 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.
In 2010, I launched Empowered Flower Girl. Since we started, we’ve been on a mission to transform the way young people relate to one another. Through workshops and programs that address and combat cyberbullying, relational aggression and other social/communications challenges facing youth, we work to empower the next generation of leaders.
So as students prepare for a new school year, we want to remind the adults in their lives of the importance of collaboration aka the Village approach.
It takes parents, educators, community members and youth themselves to truly make a difference.
Let’s work together to ensure that every young person has a successful and safe school year!
Empowered Flower Girl (EFG), a social enterprise dedicated to transforming the way young people relate to one another, is evolving and expanding its mission. The company will focus its resources toward building partnerships and fostering collaborations with education and community organizations throughout the U.S.
Rasheda Kamaria Williams, founder and chief empowering officer, says that EFG will continue offering workshops and programs in schools but will expand in the area of consulting.
With more than 15 years of community relations, strategic communications and project management experience, Williams understands that many organizations and institutions need support resources.
“Collaboration is key to transforming our communities,” Williams says. “When we combine our talents and work together toward empowering youth and families, we can have a greater impact.”
Founded in 2010, by mentor and author Rasheda Kamaria Williams, Empowered Flower Girl offers programs that combat bullying, drama and other social/communications challenges facing youth. The company has facilitated workshops and hosted events reaching nearly 4,000 youth and adults across Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
For more information, visit www.empoweredflowergirl.com.
The Stevenson High School cheer team got a visit from Empowered Flower Girl founder and author Rasheda Kamaria Williams on October 16 during National Bullying Prevention Month.
Mrs. Diana Langlois, a member of Soroptimist International of Grosse Pointe, a volunteer service organization, purchased copies of the book “Be EmPOWERed: How to Live Above & Beyond Life’s Drama” for each girl. Diana’s daughter, Robbie, coaches the team which is made up of 22 ambitious and dedicated cheerleaders.
The girls had been reading the book since the beginning of the semester. To reward the team for their recent successes and to encourage them to keep up the good work, Diana coordinated the visit.
Schedule a “Be EmPOWERed” book talk for your school, organization or house of worship. Empowered Flower Girl offers a special rate for nonprofits that order 20+ books.
Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R.1761, also known as the “Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017,” which builds on current law that makes teen-to-teen sexting a crime.
This new legislation supposedly aims to close “loopholes” in current child pornography legislation. But a recent Forbes.com article revealed that the bill could have teens facing 15 years for trying to sext. Second-time offenders would be fined and imprisoned for up to 50 years.
While it is important to protect our children from predators and those seeking to exploit them, it is also important that we communicate with children the consequences of sharing inappropriate or sexual content. Criminalizing them isn’t the answer.
While the legislation was supported by many in congress, it was opposed by dozens of others, including Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime. Lee, in the article, called the bill “deadly and counterproductive,” and commented during a House debate over the issue, “While the bill is well intended, it is overbroad in scope and will punish the very people it indicates it is designed to protect: our children…”
Learn more about the legislation here.
Twenty-first century girls face challenges that generations before them may have never imagined. From cyberbullying to societal pressure, they’re coping with the pangs adolescence both on and offline. But because of technological advances, they also have unlimited resources and opportunities to live powerful lives.
On Thursday, March 9 during Women’s History Month, Empowered Flower Girl (EFG) – in partnership with the Skyline Club’s Emerging Leaders Group – will host “EmPOWERing 21st Century Girls.”
The event, scheduled 6-7:30 p.m. at the Skyline Club in Southfield, aims to bridge the gap that exists between 20th and 21st century women and girls while encouraging sisterhood and empathy.
Participants will break down the walls of separation by participating in engaging, inter-generational icebreaking activities as well as learn about local organizations and programs supporting girls and women.
Rasheda Kamaria Williams, EFG founder and author of Be EmPOWERed: How to Live Above & Beyond Life’s Drama, will facilitate the workshop and sign copies of the guidebook and journal.
“The ultimate goal of this event is to boost understanding and empathy across the generations while combating behaviors and norms that lead to drama, relational aggression and other challenges young women face,” Williams said.
The event is open to girls 11 and older and their parents, guardians or other adult chaperones. Admission is $10 per couple and includes appetizers and a raffle ticket for prizes.
Call the Skyline Club at 248-350-9898 to RSVP. Learn more about Empowered Flower Girl at empoweredflowergirl.com.
SHARE THE FLYER
While in New Orleans last month for the International Bullying Prevention Conference, I had an opportunity to connect with Nola.com reporter Diana Samuels. She is one of the journalists engaged in an amazing multi-media initiative called the Southern Girls Project.
Louisiana’s Nola.com – along with Alabama’s Al.com – have partnered to tell the stories of girls growing up in the south. The project launched earlier this year and features everyday girls who share their hopes, dreams, challenges, concerns and ideas.
After reading about several of the girls – mostly middle and high school students – I was intrigued. The multi-media element of the project is powerful. You get a glimpse into the unscripted life of girls.
Girls in the south are like most American girls. They go to school, they’re on social media, have celebrity crushes and think about their future. But they also face unique challenges, including higher rates of poverty and obesity.
But what I love about the Southern Girls Project is that girls have a platform to not only share their stories, they have opportunities to share their solutions to the social and environmental issues that impact them.
In my opinion, every media outlet throughout every region of the country should give youth a voice.
Learn more about the Southern Girls Project at al.com/southerngirlsproject.
Volunteers 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.
A new school year has begun. The excitement of new teachers, new classmates and new experiences is present for many young people. But for some children and teens – especially those experiencing mental health challenges – the new school year can be daunting,.
As mentors, educators, parents and youth advocates, we have a responsibility to make sure young people have the resources and support they need to be successful in school and in life.
If you encounter a young person in crisis, do you know the steps to take to ensure his or her safety or wellbeing?
Earlier this summer, I became certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid. And the training didn’t cost a dime.
What is Youth Mental Health First Aid?
It’s a course designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis.
Many organizations/institutions across the nation are offering the eight-hour course FREE of charge. Find a course in your community today.
September is Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month. If you know someone at risk, don’t be afraid to intervene. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 if you or someone you know needs help.