YW Boston empowers middle school girls to practice self-love during 2019 Let Me Lead Girls Conference

Let Me Lead Fyre

YW Boston’s F.Y.R.E. Initiative Program Manager TiElla Grimes, M.Ed. recently facilitated a workshop on self-esteem and self-advocacy for young girls at the 2019 Let Me Lead Girls Conference. This two-day weekend conference brought together 97 girls to explore the realities of being a young woman of color today, and how positive mental health can impact and dictate self-esteem, confidence, sexual health, relationships, and sisterhood. The conference ended with mothers and guardians joining the second half to share best practices and support these young women. 

TiElla led Sunday’s session titled â€śLet’s Self-Love” which focused on addressing common challenges young women face in learning to love themselves. Utilizing frameworks from YW Boston’s girls’ leadership program, the F.Y.R.E. Initiative, as well as interactive activities, TiElla led the girls through an exploration of their identities and self-perceptions and how those might be influenced by external systems.  

Before closing the “Let’s Self-Love” session, participants went through a “Head, Heart, and Feet” activity to assess the day’s learnings. When prompted to talk about something they learned today, one participant mentioned not needing people’s affirmation to achieve self-acceptance. A different participant mentioned the session “made me feel empowered” while another said, â€śit made me feel belonged in the black community.” 

YW Boston’s F.Y.R.E. Initiative launched in the Fall of 2019 as a 12 to 15-week leadership development series for girls grades 6th through 9th. The series brings together social justice education, positive identity development, and civic engagement, culminating in small group civics projects. This model takes place in schools or Out of School Time programs, and it is developed to operate in a “girls group” structure rather than a traditional classroom structure. Core to the program is an effort to provide experiential learning opportunities and dialogue to build understanding and increase social emotional learning.

F.Y.R.E. participants will present a project at an end-of-semester conference and have the opportunity to engage with other youth leaders from across Greater Boston. Participants will be supported by and influence YW Boston’s Advocacy Committee through a feedback loop. Throughout the program, participants will also utilize critical thinking to assess racial and gender inequities in the City of Boston. 

Interested in bringing YW Boston’s F.Y.R.E. Initiative program to your school or Out of School Time program?