From 2006 through 2008, the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team ran a yearly Girl Leadership Camp that involved young women from our community in learning skills and developing their activism.
In 2006 and 2007, the Girls’ Leadership Camp (GLC) involved middle school aged girls (11 to 14 years old) in the Rogers Park Community. In our first year, we had 12 young women who participated regularly. In 2007, we had 25 regular participants in the GLC. The main issue that the GLC addressed was how girls can develop their natural leadership skills to make change in the community and the world. For its first two years, the GLC was offered on the last Saturday of Every Month from January to June at the Loyola Park Field House.
For the 2007 edition of GLC, YWAT leadership core member, Emilya Whitis was instrumental spearheading the camp. She was assisted and supported in this by YWAT Director and founding member, Daphnee Rene along with Rogers Park resident and adult ally, Jane Ball. With support from YWAT associate members and Daphnee, over thirty young women were recruited to attend GLC sessions on the last Saturday of every month from February to June 2007. GLC sessions included discussions about friendship, body image, self-esteem, sexual health, and violence against women and girls. The sessions often included interactive activities, discussion, and a creative activity like decorating a picture frame.
On May 5th 2007, Twenty GLC participants accompanied by YWAT leaders, Emilya, Shannon, Lillian and Daphnee took a field trip to Camp Butterfly’s Double-Dutch A Fund at the DuSable Leadership Academy. They watched performances from the Jesse White Tumblers and from talented double dutchers. On June 27th 2007, 20 GLC participants attended a matinee of the hit musical Wicked.
In 2008, the YWAT built on the success of the GLC and launched Girl Leadership U (GLU). YWAT invited emerging young women leaders (ages 14-19) to participate in Girl Leadership U (GLU). GLU was designed to guide young women through a process to help them understand the importance of building a specific set of skills that can be applied to taking action and making change. GLU provided young women with the opportunity to analyze and explore the nature of leadership as well as to gain more self-awareness.
1. Build self-awareness and confidence;
2. Deepen their understanding of the nature of leadership
3. Develop participants’ leadership skills, including public speaking, advocacy, and organizing
4. Provide young women with a meaningful opportunity to connect and network with other emerging leaders
5. Increase participants’ critical thinking and analysis
Girl U was offered on the last Saturday of every Month (January-June 2008) from 11 to 3 p.m. It was FREE to participants and selected participants received a stipend ($50 per session) if they attended at least four of the sessions. This meant that a young woman who attended all six sessions was eligible for a $300 stipend at the end of Girl U. Additionally, CTA passes and lunch was provided to all participants.
Session Topics Included:
Session 1 (January 26) – Self-Awareness (Identity) – Simone Peer, Instructor
• Creating a personal mission statement and identifying your gifts and strengths
Session 2 (February 23) – Self-Awareness (Values – What do you believe in?) – Simone Peer, Instructor
• Identify your core values and the social issues that you care about. Connect your values to your mission statement.
Session 3 (March 29) – Developing Voice/Communicating Your Ideas — Nicole Cabell-Pope, Instructor
• Public Speaking 101/ Communicating Your Ideas
Session 4 (April 26) – Facilitating Effective Meetings – Mariame Kaba, Instructor
• Tips to help you create meeting agendas, specific ways that you can engage people in meetings.
Session 5 (May 31) – Advocacy 101 – Tracy Fischman, Instructor
• Lobbying, talking to your elected officials, how to get in contact with people in power
Session 6 – FINAL RETREAT [Friday June 27th to Sunday June 29th]
• Organizing 101 – identifying issues, allies, opponents, etc… (Mariame Kaba, instructor)
• Talking about what was learned and identifying what they still want to know. This would be an overnight opportunity for all participants to reflect on their experiences and begin to conceive of a project that they want to develop.