Our Vision…

  • We are encouraging all young people to take action in their community and our world.
  • We are moving forward with our mission.
  • We are powerful advocates for change.
  • We are making a difference.
  • We are proactive not reactive.
  • We are the future so hear our voices!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Girl Prep" Goes to Minneapolis

As an In A Perfect World Youth Ambassador, I recently traveled to Minneapolis to present a workshop at the “Girl Prep” conference created by the Young Women’s Empowerment Network, (YWEN) and sponsored by In a Perfect World. Shortly after arrival, I joined the founder of In A Perfect World Manuela Testolini, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Norman Bailey, Executive Director, Dr. Towanna Freeman and her sweet daughter Jenesis Harper, the Girl Prep Creative Director, for a pre-seminar dinner.

In A Perfect World teamed up with YWEN whose mission is to provide resources/ services through education, networking and counseling to empower young women to reach personal, educational and professional success.

Dr. Towanna Freeman, founder of YWEN, is an expert in workshops and has hosted many geared towards young women in their mid-teens. Her daughter Jenesis suggested that they should target a younger age group, and became the Creative Director for this seminar.

The seminar theme is "Girl Prep,” a series of motivational activities and workshops geared towards girls eleven through fourteen. This age range is often neglected although these are key years of transition from pre adolescence to teendom.

When I arrived, I was shown the room where I would present the workshop. I immediately got to work. I set up props, posters and visual aids until all of the hands on examples were on display!

Towards the beginning of the seminar, I was interviewed by a really cool videography company called TVbyGIRLS. It is a nonprofit organization that works with girls ages eleven to eighteen, to build leadership, compassionate and collaborative working skills, critical thinking and engagement in social justice and the issues of their communities. TVbyGIRLS was there to document the event.

Throughout this event, there were several different workshops, interactive activities, snacks, prizes and entertainment! ‘The Ultimate Step Team’ (a marching band) led the procession into the opening session as music pumped from the speakers.

As soon as the music came to a stop, the girls focused in on the first activity. It was a team building project planned by Jenesis called, “Fort Foamy.” This is a clever game where teams and selected “project managers” work together to create a “fort in a box” out of foam material. There was no manual, tape or glue. The only instructions were a few tips from Jenesis, who proved to be a “Fort Foamy Expert.” The Board of Directors and I joined in on the fun and succeeded in creating a rather quaint little fort.

When we completed the opening session activity, the girls were divided into small groups and went to attend specific workshops. I presented the “Harmony Workshop.” The workshop is based off of the principles of my published book “Harmony.” I tailored my workshop specifically to girls, where as my book speaks to all people; both adults and youth. In a time of war, trials and strife, this workshop sheds light on the power in unity and the passion of peace.

My workshop included motivational quotes, reflective questions and hands on props that were a complementary addition to the inspirational messages and theme driven illustrations that I drew. Each theme encourages girls to gather more petals, to complete their flower of harmony.

So what was our schedule like? All of us presenting conducted two consecutive workshops with a lunch break in between. It was a full day with tons of fun. During the closing ceremony, everyone assembled in the large meeting room and the final activity began. Dr. Towanna Freeman had the entire group of young women participate in an exercise. Each girl received two pieces of paper. On the first one they wrote “I am not” followed by writing a negative adjective they wanted to dismiss (e.g. “I am not” lazy, dumb, ugly.) The second sheet they wrote “I am” followed by a positive attribute (e.g. “I am” a champion, a winner, strong.) Then they were instructed to tear up the “I am not” sign and hold up the “I am” sign, symbolically separating themselves from negative self-images. It was very moving to see the girls shed their insecurities, as they tore their“ I am not” sign and proudly proclaimed their beauty and individuality.

As for the grand finale, the girls created a summary through drawings of what they had learned, and what “a perfect world” meant to them. The 3 best drawings would be chosen and the winners would receive a special prize, which included a spot on the ‘In a Perfect World Wall of Inspiration.’ The drawings submitted were beautiful, each in it’s own way. The strong themes resonated off of each picture. Finally we chose three and concluded the session by summarizing the day and awarding each of the winners.