International Day of Girl Child: How Chrysalis Program nonprofit is teaching practical life skills to young girls
International Day of Girl Child acknowledges the importance, power, and potential of adolescent girls. This day is also designated to eliminate gender-based challenges that little girls face, including child marriages, poor learning opportunities, violence, and discrimination.
The Chrysalis Program is a nonprofit that teaches self-confidence, health, nutrition, and practical life skills to minority girls ages 5-18 through interactive workshops, mentoring, and counselling. Utilizing the resources of volunteers and active parents, we have created a community of learning, transformation, and growth.
Why is it important to celebrate International Day of Girl Child?
A: Asha- It’s important to have International Day of the Girl Child so we can focus on our future because girls are the future mothers of this entire world. They’re going to be birthing, training and developing what our future looks like. So who better to put the focus on for that?
Brenda- I want to say that girls are often just marginalized and disregarded and sometimes made invisible. This day allows girls to be in the light for a day or month or however long so they know that they are valuable to this society. That’s why we should celebrate our girls.
Valerie- Not only does society need to know the importance of girls, but the girls themselves also have to know their worth and their value, and their power. And to feel loved and important. When they do go out into the world, they shouldn’t be afraid to show who they are. Girls are often told to be quiet but they’re so expressive, creative and smart. We don’t want that smothered. We should celebrate them and let them know that it’s okay to be who they are.
What is the root cause of all the gender-based issues affecting young girls and women?
A: Brenda – There are several causes for gender-based violence and discrimination. A big component is a patriarchy. The decisions that are made for women and girls are based on the values of a limited viewpoint, and a limited number of people. This impacts all of us – our government, our religious institutions, our school system, all have structures in place that tend to limit women. We don’t necessarily address the perpetrators of that violence, always telling girls to close their legs to dress appropriately, to not speak up. However, there are male figures out there who are abusing women and girls. We see it all the time where perpetrators of crime are let go because there’s little value placed on the lives of women and girls. It’s in our politics and our institutions. And so until those things are challenged, and broken apart, it will continue.
What should be the first step in tackling this problem?
A: Asha- In my opinion, we need to create a safe space for girls. A safe space for them to heal from everything. Whether that’s abuse in the family, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, we want to find a space for them where they can recover from all the messages telling them that they aren’t good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. They need to feel that they do have power, a voice and they are beautiful and smart.
How is the Chrysalis Project working in this direction?
A: Asha – So what we do is we focus on girls from 5 to 18 years old. We build their confidence, teach lessons, like empathy, and understand different perspectives. We teach gratitude, conflict resolution, etiquette, and we teach a myriad of other classes that have goals. We train them to boost their confidence level to enter the world without hesitation and be whomever they want.
What motivated you to work for the Chrysalis Program?
A: Brenda- I saw Asha developing the program online and wanted to join in right away, but I already had a huge volunteer project that I was committed to. So I’m delayed by a year. But I volunteer all the time. I think it’s important for us to share our knowledge and our care or concern for other people through service and I’ve always been a person of service, my children join me into that. So service to others is really important to me.
Valerie- When Asha mentioned the idea of christless, I was all in. So, that’s how it started. I’ve been here from the beginning. A big part of my motivation came from raising my children.
What are some myths that you’d like to bust today?
A: Asha- One of the myths that we don’t talk about is that black girls don’t need their own safe space. Because they do. And we need to make the point globally. African Americans and African women of the diaspora are often portrayed as less beautiful, less smart, less poise than other women. With these negative messages from the media, society, and laws that say ‘We can’t wear our hair, the way it grows, we have to make it look more white.’ Those are the reasons why black girls need a space to be themselves as they are naturally without having to conform to something else to be considered better.
Brenda- One great myth out there is that all children are resilient. Not all children are resilient, they need something to interrupt, whatever trauma they’re engaging or are having put upon them so that they can thrive and not get broken by society.
So we provide an opportunity so that they know that they’re supported and cared for. Studies say that without that interruption, lot of children will be broken and become broken adults who commit crimes or other atrocities. So folks must know that programs like Chrysalis are of so much value because they offer that opportunity for girls and whomever we bring into our program.
What are some ways in which potential volunteers can contribute to help the Chrysalis Program?
A: Asha- All of us are volunteers and when we have new volunteers who decide they want to be a part of the process, they first go through a volunteer orientation where we talk in-depth about what Chrysalis is and what we expect them to do. We always need instructors and support staff that might serve food and might help set up a space. And then even support strategic support, like background, people who may not interact with children, but they might help with marketing or they might be able to write grants so that we’re able to continue to fund our program.
So we need background people, administrative people to build. We need somebody to help us renovate a building so that we can have a home for Christmas. There are plenty of opportunities.
Any message you would like to share with potential volunteers?
A: Valerie- I would like people to just do a few acts of service overall. Be someone’s person. Generally, we don’t even know who their person is, but there are times that you can discuss with someone or talk to someone and say one thing that stands out to them and they’ll continue to think about that and they’ll remember that. To me, that’s one of the biggest things about being someone’s person all the time, even though you may not know that’s what you’re doing. So we need to always have the same energy, the same compassion and the same love all of the time.
Asha- I will just say thank you for wanting to volunteer with Chrysalis. Anybody who’s willing to volunteer to chrysalis is admirable. We are just grateful for anybody willing to volunteer in any capacity at Chrysalis because it’s needed and we want to continue to grow and be able to expand what we offer.
Everybody has something valuable inside of them to share so it doesn’t matter your level of education, what country you’re from or what your age or gender is.
I would recommend using your time and energy for something very important and meaningful to you.
The inception of the Chrysalis Program took place at the intersection between wanting to reach the world with a message of love & wholeness and needing to make a positive change in the world. We need to change the narrative of minorities in America: How the media portrays us is NOT who we are as people. We need our students to see positive images that will give them greater heights to soar to.
Thank you, Valerie, Asha, and Brenda
Celebrate International Day of the Girl Child with the Chrysalis Program
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