Defeating Bullying One Conversation at a Time

Bullying and digital harassment are pervasive in schools and communities around the globe. We all know this. But what are we doing collectively to address and prevent it? Our friends over at Defeat the Label are bringing together students, parents, educators and youth advocates to discuss strategies that produce solutions. And it all begins with a conversation.

On Oct. 26, the organization will host its 3rd annual Community Conversation on Bullying at the Oakland Community Schools Conference Center in Waterford, Michigan. In addition to conversations, the event includes workshops on topics ranging from mental health and relational aggression (girl bullying) to social media and empathy in early childhood.

Empowered Flower Girl’s Rasheda Kamaria Williams will discuss the impact of popular media on girls’ relationship realities and how the adults in their lives can transforms the way they relate to one another during the Mentoring Girls and Inspiring Sisterhood workshop.

Admission to the conference is $25. Learn more and RSVP by visiting defeatthelabel.com.

Empowered Flower Girl focuses on partnerships, community collaboration for 2018/19 school year and beyond

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.

Be a mentor in 2018

If you’ve resolved to make a difference or dedicate your time to worthy causes in the new year, I encourage you to consider mentoring.

You may have thought about it in the past but weren’t sure if you’d have the time or qualifications. But chances are – you do!

January is National Mentoring Month – a time for individuals and organizations across the country to bring awareness to the need for caring adults to serve as role models for youth.

I’ve been inspired to mentor for the past 16 years. While I have no biological children, I am dedicated to positively impacting the young people in my family and in my community.

According to MENTOR, the national mentoring partnership, 1 out of 3 children will grow up without a mentor.

There are many benefits for children and teens matched with mentors. These young people are less likely to engage in risky behaviors and activities such as truancy, drugs and gangs. They also are more likely to graduate high school and attend college.

Consider this.

It only takes a few hours a month of face time and a phone call a week to help increase a child’s self-esteem. In addition to the mentee’s development, the mentor benefits in many ways. My mentees have helped me aspire higher in my career and in life. And knowing that they’re looking up to me, keeps me living in integrity.

Still not sure about mentoring?

Visit www.rashedakamaria.com to download your copy of my FREE mentoring guide. 

Rasheda Kamaria Williams is an award-winning mentor, author and chief empowering officer for Empowered Flower Girl LLC. Check out her TEDx talk to learn how mentoring makes a difference. 

Cheers to Stevenson High School!

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.

Does New Anti-Sexting Legislation Criminalize Kids?

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.

Kindness is Key

For many of us, November has been exhausting. The contentiousness of the U.S. presidential election has kept many who work with children and youth on edge. Our children are like sponges and soak up the good and the bad of our collective behavior. Unfortunately, many have picked up on the not-so good.

But all hope is not lost.

We have opportunities to transform how people relate to one another in our communities and classrooms. I recently attended the International Bullying Prevention Association Conference in New Orleans. The theme was “Getting to the Bottom of It: Bullying Prevention through Empathy and Kindness.”

Kindness is powerful. Author and education expert Dr. Michelle Borba noted in her opening keynote that empathy is “we” not “me.” Instilling a we attitude in our children is vital. This can be done in and out of school through experiential activities.

Sunday, Nov. 13, gave us all an opportunity to turn me into we as the nation observed World Kindness Day, a 24-hour global campaign dedicated to paying it forward and focusing on the good. Empowered Flower Girl encourages you to engage – and engage youth – in activities that make a difference year round!

Make kindness go viral.

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.

October is Bullying Prevention Month: Join us at these POWERful events

October is Bullying Prevention Month and Empowered Flower Girl will be out an about in the community connecting with youth and youth advocates to encourage acts of kindness and support for and among young people.

Join us at the following events this month:

Oct. 15 (Detroit)  – Commemorating Global Day of the Girl

Oct. 17 (Novi, MI) – Defeat the Label Community Conversation on Bullying

Oct. 22 (Kalamazoo, MI) – Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Literary Café

Oct. 25 (Detroit, MI) –  Giant Step Teen Conference

For additional news, events and inspiring content, be sure to connect with us via social media.

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Events at Beaumont Hospital to Kick Off Bullying Prevention Month in Michigan

Bullying often goes unreported by students in many schools across the country. Despite research findings that show bullying has significant long-term impacts on both victims and perpetrators, many young people are reluctant to speak up.

It is up to parents, teachers, counselors and youth advocates to learn the signs of bullying and know how to effectively respond to children and youth.

That’s why the International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA), in partnership with Beaumont Children’s, is hosting the Michigan Bullying Prevention Conference on October 1, 2016. The event, scheduled at Beaumont Hospital’s campus in Royal Oak, will unite diverse groups of youth advocates to discuss bullying and peer aggression. They will also develop strategies and solutions to take back to their schools and communities.

Patti Agatston, Ph.D., a national cyberbullying expert and IBPA president, and Anne Collier, founder of the iCanHelpLine, will open up the conference with a keynote and discussion on “Cyberbullying and Digital Citizenship Strategies.”

Workshop topics include restorative practices, school climate, bullying and suicide, effective communication strategies, cyberbullying and legal aspects of bullying and many more.

Registration is $25 per person and includes breakfast and lunch. Professional development credits are available. Principals, teachers, counselors, liaison officers, social workers, school board members and those working in community agencies are encouraged to attend.

The conference will be preceded by a free event for parents and adult family members covering information and strategies specific to online safety. Karuna Nain, Facebook global safety manager, will present “Navigating the Social World with Your Teens — Insights from Facebook,” on Thursday, September 29. Registration is required for this event.

The Michigan Bullying Prevention Conference is sponsored by Beaumont Children’s, NoBLE (No Bullying Live Empowered) and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Additional support comes from the Michigan Elementary and Secondary Principals Association (MEMSPA).

For more information or to register for the conference, visit www.ibpaworld.org/mi.

How to Support Youth in Crisis

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.