Polo Grounds Teen

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

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. 


Video: Eve Ensler on 'Embracing Your Inner Girl'

In this passionate TED talk by "Vagina Monologues" author Eve Ensler, she declares that every one of us has an inner "girl cell", a cell we have been socially taught to suppress. Our Teen Girls Club in Harlem watched this video and reflected on the importance of finding courage in vulnerability, and overcoming adversity through the shocking strength and intution of being a girl. Eve Ensler delivers an important message that speaks for young women all over the world: