Girls Like Me Project Celebrates International Day of the Girl
The United Nations declared October 11th International Day of the Girl. The first International Day of the Girl took place on Oct. 11, 2012, with a focus on girls’ rights and the challenges girls face around the world. Since then, Girls Like Me Project has been celebrating the day and making it a special occasion.
This year, for the second time, Girls Like Me Project gathered with other community organizations to host an International Day of the Girl at South Shore Cultural Center. The location is significant for Girls Like Me Project Founder LaKeisha Gray Sewell, who grew up not too far away from South Shore Cultural Center.
“It’s always been a majestic place for me, but it’s always been a place that’s been accessible,” Sewell said, adding that in recent years it wasn’t as accessible and was closed for some time.
Sewell wanted the girls to understand the jewels that are in their community and have ownership of the spaces and know they deserve to take up space in those places. She wanted the girls to feel the opulence, grandeur, warmth of South Shore Cultural Center.
Girls Like Me Project was founded in 2008 after Sewell began volunteering in her son’s classroom. In 2012, it became a non profit organization, with the goal to help girls critically examine the social, cultural and political ideologies that exist in the media. That way, the girls are empowered to push back against stigmas, stereotypes and untruths.
Girls Like Me Project’s celebration for International Day of the Girl has evolved throughout the years. Starting with 70 girls in 2012, Sewell relied on volunteers and hoped girls would attend the event. Now, the event is a field trip, immersive experience that takes place during the day, and has more support.
During the event, the girls learned how to speak Yoruba, had a talk show experience, watched other young women perform in a talent showcase and participated in mindfulness practices – yoga, meditation, journaling and art therapy.
Nevaeh Harris and Layci Muhammad attended the event and are part of Girls Like Me Project. Harris wanted to attend the event after participating in the Summer program. She gained so many opportunities and felt so much sisterhood at that event.
“Just feeling so confident with using my voice to project my unapologeticness and being who I am and how to wear my crown and how to walk in my purpose is why I came today,” Harris said.
Harris was looking forward to meeting new girls and feeling sisterhood at the event. Harris believes that it is important to celebrate International Day of the Girl because girls need to know they do have a voice and they should always wear their crown and have their heads held high.
Muhammad wanted to participate in this year’s celebration because she attended last year’s event. Last year’s event was her first time celebrating International Day of the Girl and she was exposed to things she never experienced before.
“I think it’s important to celebrate the International Day of the Girl because a lot of girls don’t have a lot of things around them to show they can be something bigger than what they are right now, or show they can be successful. This gives them the opportunity for them to know they have worth and they have the potential to do whatever they want to do,” Muhammad said.
One of the takeaways Sewell wanted the girls to take from the event is that they are destined to overcome all of the oppression that awaits Black girls.
“We want them to know that if they are surrounded by people who love them, people who pour into them, that they can accomplish anything they set their hearts to and they are destined to do and the only person who can ever stop them from doing it is themselves,” Sewell said.
Sewell is calling on Mayor Brandon Johnson to make International Day of the Girl and official observance in the City of Chicago.
For more information about Girls Like Me Project, visit www.girlslikemeproject.org.
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