Yesterday was our second day trekking up to the Polo Grounds for another breakthrough workshop for the LitWorld Teen Girls Club, and Lauren and I arrived with colorful index cards emblazoned with powerful quotes! Staying true to LitWorld's mission to create "words that change worlds", last night's workshop further instilled each young woman's ability to harness the power of a positive voice.
The girls came in fluttering with excited chatter, and upon overhearing conversations about how disappointed they can be with their neighborhood and environment, I jumped in to ask what good and positive things they can find there. Immediately, they replied by saying, "Nothing's good here, I wouldn't even invite my friends up here. Everyone knows this neighborhood is bad." I smiled and said, "But this is space is good, right? This Girls Club? This space we are creating for each other, this is positive, no?" They smiled meekly and shyly agreed. I reminded them that if we don't see what we like, we all have the power to draw from ourselves and help to empower each other. No matter how small, our intentions and our strengths are bigger and stronger than we know. I think that little by little, they are beginning to believe this more and more.
After our opening check-ins, I asked the girls to get on their feet. I divided the room into three sections: YES, NO, and MAYBE. I instructed the girls to go to the part of the room they felt they belonged to after I read some statements out loud. The statements went something like this:
I have a woman I look up to.
I have a lot of girl friends and get along well with other girls.
I have a story worth telling.
I want to change the world, and I have goals and dreams.
After the girls went to their respective corners of the room, we had mini discussions. Some of them responded that they don't have many girl friends because girls can be "catty" or tend to talk negatively about other girls. I reminded them of one of our seven strengths, "Sisterhood", and asked for them to remember that as women, we should continue supporting, empowering, and uplifting each other, because all in all, we are in this movement together. I saw a nod of agreement come from each of them, and they looked at each other and smiled. I felt proud to watch them trust each other more and more.
What I love most about these young women is their energy, excitement, and enthusiasm for books, words, and reading. We laugh often, make jokes, and get serious when it's time. We made a list of books they loved, and it was a frenzy: they loved so many of them, including Judy Blume (gosh, she never gets old, does she? :) )
Our next activity used our powerful quotes cards. I had the girls pass the cards around and identify which quote spoke to them most. They exclaimed with excitement when they found "the one". Tiffany was moved by a quote from Nelson Mandela, Mandy gravitated toward one by Reverend Run, and Zena was drawn to one by Dr. Seuss. They wrote a reflection in their journals about why this quote is one they live by, and shared. They are such powerful young women backed with a strength they don't even (fully) know yet.
Our next activity was more writing, but since it was getting late and I wanted them to spend more time on it, I sent them home with their journals to work on their personal stories based on a significant, life defining moment in their life. Next week, we are doing editing workshops and decorating their journals with a collage theme based on this question: What kind of woman do I want to grow to be?
I can't wait for next week. As always, I will keep you posted. Pictures to come soon!