Harlem Teens Girls Club

Introducing Our New Summer Girls Club at HueMan Bookstore

Girls Club Girls with Guest Artist Speaker, Tova

The Hue-Man bookstore is a beautiful space in the heart of Harlem, housing books that reflect the soul, history, and spirit of the neighborhood's rich legacy. It is one of the few bookstores in the United States that is dedicated to the African-American community, welcoming authors, speakers, and influential leaders to spark dialogue and inspiration for the people of Harlem and beyond.

For these reasons, we found it to be the perfect place to hold our Girls Club meetings, inviting our girls from Polo Grounds, as well as brand new girls to join in. It was beautiful to watch the Polo Grounds girls, our veterans, welcome the new participants in. I witnessed firsthand the way they blossomed, their confidence and demeanor much more certain and open compared to our first meeting exactly one year ago.

One of the newer participants, Crystal, is thirteen years old, the baby of the group. Immediately, the older girls ensured her that they would take care of her, staying true to our mission of sisterhood. I was inspired by their openness, their eagerness to belong to a new community, and most of all, their words. Their words are wise but curious at the same time, willing to offer stories, but take in new knowledge.

We have an exciting few weeks ahead, filled with exciting guest authors and powerful female leaders coming in to speak with us. I can't wait to share the upcoming stories from Harlem this summer as the new group of girls find the common passion for books, words, and stories in each other.


Harlem Teens Join Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women


Stephanie, 14, displaying an "X"  to advocate for women.

A few days ago, we learned of a campaign being put on by the UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, who is leading an advocacy movement called "Stop Rape Now". The UN Action is a concerted effort by the UN system to improve coordination and accountability, amplify programming and advocacy, and support national efforts to prevent sexual violence and respond effectively to the needs of survivors.


Aisatou, 16

The "Stop Rape Now" campaign seeks to mobilize people around the world to contact government officials to end rape as a weapon of war. It also invites people from all over the world to join the campaign by displaying a photo of their arms crossed like an X (like Stephanie, Aisatou, and Daija) as a symbol to stop violence against women. Like the Harlem girls, you can join global advocates by uploading your photo on their website here.

I thought this was an urgent topic that needed to be discussed, so I invited the Harlem Teens at Polo Grounds to learn more about this issue. After reading an article that reported 48 women in Congo are raped every hour, we were all moved to speak out. We talked about this global issue being very much a local and personal problem that could be felt by every one of us as women. We spoke of our strength of Sisterhood and the importance of standing in solidarity with women across the world.


Daija, 16

To support and learn more about the cause, follow the hashtag on Twitter at #endrapeinwar visit their website, or watch the video from Nobel Laureate Jody Williams here.

Written by Ruby Veridiano, Girls Club Facilitator at the Harlem Polo Grounds

Our Girls Clubs Attend the Gala! (Part 2)

Our Harlem Teens from the Polo Grounds Community Center looked radiant at the Gala last week! They even had special roles to play during the event: Stephanie Marfo and her brother, Brian Marfo, spoke in front of the audience to share their experiences in the LitWorld programs. Stephanie is in the Girls Club, and her brother Brian participates in the new Boys Club program.

Photos by: Wesley Bent

Stephanie, Harlem Teen Girls Club Facilitator and Staff Member Ruby Veridiano,

Brian, and Tiffany

Daija, Aisatou, VP of Polo Grounds Center Tonyna McGhee, & Tiffany

Tiffany, Stephanie, & Nikeya Stuart of the Polo Grounds

Aisatou with incoming LitWorld intern Emily

Everyone enjoyed seeing them, and we were happy they came downtown to share this special evening with us!

Harlem Teens Celebrate Poetry Month

In the spirit of National Poetry Month and LitWorld's Global Poem for Change Campaign, the Harlem Teens wrote some poems sparked by author Naomi Shihab Nye's words:

I send my words out into the air, listening for yours from everywhere....

They both decided to dedicate their poems to their mothers.


Tiffany, 17:

I send my words out into the air

Listening for yours from everywhere

You are a part of me.

Without you I would not stand

On my own two feet

You are the bridge on my path

Holding me up through my ups and downs.


Stephanie, 14:

I send my words out into the air

Listening for yours from everywhere

I want to tell you that I love you

That no one on this Earth can make me feel

As special as you can

I hope I have become what you expected me to become

Somewhere, somehow, we will speak

Whether it is from the wind in the air

Or the stars in the sky

We will always have a bond

And I know we will hear each other,

Becuase you won't give up on me.

So I am sending my words out into the air

Listening for yours from everywhere.

Harlem Teens Make Dream Catchers with Special Guest Lauren Blum!

" Use the web to help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions." - Lakota Dreamcatcher Legend

Yesterday evening, special guest and LitWorld friend Lauren Blum came to our Teen Girls Club in Harlem to make dream catchers, a symbolic piece derived from Native American culture that are believed to bestow pleasant dreams, good luck, and lifetime harmony. Lauren Blum introduced the concept of the dream catcher, and brought materials for the girls to weave their own. Suddenly, our room was turned into a space where the girls could debrief their day, and inspired a refreshing calm. The girls were so proud of their work, and beamed when they finished their dream catcher at the end of the session. Thank you Lauren for coming up to visit us! We hope to see you again soon!

Harlem Girls Club head to SoHo to visit the Huffington Post!

The Harlem Teen Girls Club and a couple girls from both Tuesday and Thursdays Younger Girls Club at Polo Grounds ventured to SoHo to visit Arianna Huffington’s work place, The Huffington Post. In December, Arianna graciously stopped in to visit our girls, so it was their turn to visit her place of work!

The trip started with some hand-games while we waited for the subway train…


Then, once we arrived at the Huffington Post, her friendly staff greeted us with a warm welcome, and the adventure automatically began. We were given a tour of the website by one of Arianna’s editors, Grace Kiser. The girls not only learned how vast the website was, but also where it started, how it grew, and how they could get involved.


We were then shown the offices, and this began with the most important office of all, Arianna’s. The girls were amazed with the colors and art that filled her workspace. But what amazed them the most was the picture of them from December, when the great lady herself visited the Polo Grounds.


Along the tour we met different staff in different departments. This helped the girls fully grasp how much work actually goes into the Huffington Post.


The tour ended with a token of tort bags and notebooks.


Thank you Arianna and her WONDERFUL staff for inviting us!

The Harlem Teen Girls Club Celebrate Belonging


Aisatou (center) celebrates her birthday along with Tiffany (left) and Stephanie (right)

Our Harlem Teens at Polo Grounds just begun their third cycle of Girls Club, so there is much to celebrate! Aisatou turned sixteen a few days ago, so our Girls joined her in honoring another year of life.


The strength that we focused on during this session was Belonging, and I asked the girls to reflect on their relationships belonging to their families, culture, and heritage. We celebrated the presence of our mothers, and how they taught us all to be the women that we have become. We remembered the places we were born, and the cultures we were all raised within. We honored the sense of belonging and pride we feel as those descending from beautiful legacies and (her)stories. All of us coming from different places in the world, yet finding a parallel in our experiences as daughters and young women finding ourselves.


We read a poem by Korean American writer Ishle Yi Park, entitled "Jejudo Dreams", a poignant piece of a first generation immigrant daughter trying to find peace and reconciliation balancing the two worlds she comes from: America and Korea. She writes,

"I wonder: will my ancestors not hear me when I die?/Because of my accent? Will all the history I embody unravel with my time because this tongue/cannot recall the words braided into my bloodline?"

The girls reflected on this, recognizing their own experience in discovering where they belong.

As Aisatou so eloquently and powerfully writes:

I belong to a mother of strength. A country full of sorrow. A painful history. I am proud to be from a land that has fought back. I am proud to be from a mother so strong the sky will surrender to her.

As we ended, I know the girls are proud to know that at this Girls Club, they will always belong.