Strengthening and Empowering the Lives of Females Inc.
In this day and age the media plays an important role in the development of our youth. Girls and women of color struggle to be seen and represented positively in books, on television, in the news and most importantly, for the younger generation, on social media. Everyday adolescent girls of color have to deal with the limitations that are placed on them by the media and society’s “status quo.” These pressures have an effect on their mental, physical and spiritual development as they transition into womanhood.
SELF is safe haven where girls can freely express themselves and develop on their own terms. Our program encourages high school girls of color to confidently embark on the amazing journey of self-discovery and to achieve their full potential in life. Our girls have the opportunity to explore their talents, skills, interest and goals while reclaiming their “truth” and motivating each other. The program is a 10 month program in which we explore seven areas: the SELF, history, purpose, spirituality, relationships, leaderships and economics. Our program instructors serve as a mentor, counselor and confidante. They offer guidance to the girls by passing on wisdom and sharing relatable life lessons. We encourage parents and guardians to play an active role while their child goes through the “SELF" experience.
The Umoja (Unity) Retreat is a chance for the girls to withdraw from the urban fast-pace city life to learn, grow and bond with their fellow sisters in a relax nature setting. Learning and exploring in a new environment will allow the girls to gain a different perspective on their journey to SELF discovery and unity. Together the girls will engage in a series of workshops and team building activities that will teach them effective communication, leadership skills, teamwork and unity. This experience will give them a renewed sense of direction and a stronger support system among each other.
The Rites Ceremony takes place at the end of the program to acknowledge the girl’s development and transition into womanhood. The ceremony symbolizes a closure to the past and a celebration of new beginnings in the future. It is time for family and friends to come and support their girls while enjoying a taste of African culture.
There is strength in unity
In traditional societies throughout the world the transition from childhood to adulthood is carefully marked with rituals and ceremonies. In African culture this transitional period is known as a passage of rites from one stage of life to another. This passage consists of three rite stages: the rite of separation, rite of transition and the rite of incorporation. Once children reach adolescence they are expected to take on a new role in their community. The rite of passage serves as preparation for the new role they will assume. Boys and girls are separated, taken out of the village, and taught life skills, appropriate behavior, values of their tribe and custom traditions. Upon completion of this process the children are then granted their rites as an adult and thus assume their new role in the community. They also build an everlasting bond with their fellow initiates. The rite of passage is important because it is critical for identity formation and reservation of the community and African culture.