Inspiring Workshop Showing Girls They Don’t Need To Be Beyonce To Be A ‘Dreamgirl’

About six months ago on a somewhat chilly early afternoon in January, I sat in a classroom and awaited the arrival of twenty beautiful faces. One by one, they were dropped off by their moms, sisters, dads, and aunt’s. Their youth, excitement, and adorable curiosity amplified my eagerness to get started with the days activities. With the help and contributions of my mother, best friend, members of the community, and other important women – activity materials were in line, lunch was prepared, certificates and goodie bags were organized and ready for the girls of my workshop, Be Your Own Dream Girl.

All eyes were on me and I was poised and ready to take on speaking with young girls about the importance of a good self-esteem and the value of true self-reflection, because every little girl has an idea of who she is, and who she wants to become.  But those ideas are at times, self-criticizing, unhealthy, and damaging, as 62% of all girls feel unsure of themselves.

BYODG workshop

Through my own self-reflection, women’s groups, sorority relations, and life experiences, I learned that many of my actions, accomplishments, and failures were deeply related to how I viewed myself from within. Because of this, I was inspired to spread love amongst other girls and women in an intentional way. During my last year of college as an undergraduate, I spent hours outside of classes and extracurricular activities creating this workshop and tailored it to middle school aged girls.

The workshop consisted of a series of activities and discussions. One half of the activities were focused on viewing oneself as acceptable, worthy, and beautiful. The other half was focused on learning to self-reflect through the method that helped me through many of my lowest days, journaling.

BYODG Workshop

“I liked when we talked about being beautiful because we all had different things to say and write about now I think beautiful is all of us” said Eve*, a fifth grader.

The workshop was intended to make a few differences: a young girl would leave knowing how to make herself present in a room; introducing herself and starting a conversation with another girl using a positive statement without any self doubt. She would feel beautiful, even if a boy did not have a crush on her. She would look back at a journal entry and be reminded of how highly she thinks of herself. She viewed her journal as a place to go when she felt any emotion, sadness, anger, joy, beautiful, or ugly because it is a safe place for her to express herself. And finally, she encourages the young girls around her, unknowingly implementing positive relationships and sisterhood.

BYODG Workshop

BYODG Workshop

The twenty Dreamgirls and myself ended the workshop sitting on the floor in a circle with a skinny rope, we tossed the ball of rope to one another saying each other’s name and then making a positive statement about that person based on something we had learned or observed throughout the workshop; all while holding on tight to the portion of string that we caught in our hands. When the ball of rope disappeared, there was a web of string in the middle of our circle. The goal was to drop a stack of heavy books in the middle of the circle without it falling through. For Zainab*, a seventh grader, this final activity meant, “if we stick together, be nice to each other, and help each other love ourselves, nothing will break our rope!” For Mattie*, also a seventh grader, it meant, “if we love ourselves and one another, there isn’t anything that can bring us down or make us feel bad about ourselves. We are our own dream girls.” For me as the leader and mentor to these young girls, it meant making those small differences the workshop was intended to make.

Now that it is the six-month mark, I will check in on all of the girls with phone calls and old-fashioned stationary. My desire is that the workshop I brought to Hoboken, and the workshops I conduct in the future with other young girls are not one-time events. For example, My fourth grade teacher brought me to New York City many years ago and almost fifteen years later, we are still in one another’s lives, keeping in touch, conversing over lunch and dinner, and now even talking about romantic relationships! She is an unforgettable, extremely helpful, motivating, and inspiring woman in my life and I strive to be that to Dreamgirls of Hoboken.

BYODG Workshop

I am excited for the day that one of my Dreamgirls calls, sends a text or shoots me an email before I check in on her. I will be ready to provide an answer or a resource to any question. I am willing to help her through high school’s tough situations that I experienced myself such as cyber bullying, sexuality, and self-image. Because like 8th grader Star* said in regards to following in the footsteps of others, “C’mon, we all need more than one role model!”

 

Corvaya Jefferies

Corvaya Jefferies is a 22 year old graduate of Wake Forest University. She is currently living out West pursuing a career in television hosting and journalism specializing in music and women’s lifestyle. She enjoys family, spoken word poetry, reading text on the hip hop culture and getting lost in romantic films every once in a while. You can follow her on twitter @Wunderkind_era.

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