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Two days of performances, panel discussions, film screenings, art and education focused on the issues that affect young women like body image, health, sexuality and gender non-conformity. Now, keeping in mind that this is largely a demographic that rarely gets catered to and centered on topics most often glossed over, this event worked primarily on demystifying what art means and could mean to young women.
For over 10 years, Women On The Rise! has been working with underserved youth through art to bring about stories, identities, and dialogues never before seen. The program uses “contemporary art to inspire girls to engage in critical dialogues about body image, relationships, and culture through hands-on art projects, visits to exhibitions, and meetings with noted women artists. The goal of the program is to increase girls’ self-esteem, critical thinking skills, and access to arts and culture.” In the Visualizing Bodies/Space panel, WOTR! spoke on working with justice system-involved girls in Miami. With the large number of black women and girls incarcerated and the disorientation of intimacy and emotional volatility in prison- Art as a therapy gives a voice to the voiceless by being accessible and relevant.
For queer and homeless kids, art can bring a sense of stability. Noted in the panel, Essential Creativity in GLBTQ youth, there is a high necessity of dialogue for youth when it comes to finding your personal image, learning languages, and the building of your own personal sexual narrative. These are rites of passage for all children but for those that are shamed for being different, cultivating a voice and taking up space is revolutionary in itself. Organizations like Pridelines Youth Services, Reading Queer and Alliance For GLBTQ Youth work together to provide the Miami community with the platforms for self-expression and self-exploration while advocating on their behalf for a more just world. In the film Inocente, a young girl shows how the transformative power of art became her only savior when the weight of being a homeless, undocumented, girl-of-color seemed to be too much. To be different is to be creative- It’s not possible to remove art from queerness, from activism, from health.
Passion begets progress which is why events like the Girls Summit is so important to have.
Out of Illinois, comes Saving Our Lives Hearing Our Truths, a radical self-love and self-empowerment group celebrating black girlhood and all their complexities founded by Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown, Ph.D, assistant professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. Their special musical performance voiced for a collective inclusion and recognition for all black girls, “remember Black girls, honor Black girls, trust Black girls, protect Black girls, think like Black girls, and encourage Black girls to keep living.” By destroying feelings of shame and promoting a willful contribution to your community, SOLHOT shows that the most marginalized group can be the most powerful.
Passion begets progress which is why events like the Girls Summit is so important to have. The need for more community-based organizations is high and with systematic defunding of girls’ programs at large, women only spaces are not only necessary, but critical. “We are the agents of change, we can fight the churn within the system.” Not participating or contributing to your community as a whole, is just willful ignorance. Learn how you can support the young disenfranchised girls in your community by checking out the sites below.
Girls Rock Camp
Music camps where girls learn how to play instruments, form bands, write original songs, and perform at live music venues.
This group holds an annual retreat on our upstate farm for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Transgender, Questioning and Intersex youth. These retreats allow young people the opportunity to leave the city for a weekend and to have the space and time needed to feel like the majority and not the marginalized minority.
Girl Power Rocks!
Girls Rock Programs allow young girls to develop into their full potential as leaders in their community.