As I witnessed the many special moments that I was privileged to share with the bold and brilliant members of the Girls Leadership Council during their first ever “sleepover”, I could not help but to smile as I realized the extraordinary memories that were in the making. Special moments made possible because of the vision and wisdom of an exceptional young woman, Biannela Susana, who leads the Girls Leadership Council. Biannela plans and executes each gathering with great attention to the needs and wishes of each girl. Today was particularly special and there was a packed agenda. Bubbles bounced through the summer breezes, hula hoops were spinning, sidewalks chalked with messages about the power of girls and young women and rehearsals for the upcoming “Our Story” performance! Memories in the making. This perfect day culminated with their first “sleepover” at the meticulously and lovingly renovated “little pink house” generously created for our girls by Helen Lane. The girls met Helen for the first time and sat in a circle as they asked questions and shared their dreams for the future. The power of her gift was evident in the spontaneous conversation, “When we grow up, we will come back here and have family reunions – because this is like home to us.” They all nodded in agreement. I found myself full of emotions as I witnessed the girls and young women proclaiming their individual voices, sharing their fears, celebrating their dreams, accepting each other and bonding together as a family. The mission of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center to engage communities, organizations and individuals through quality research, community organizing, advocacy, training and model programming to advance the rights of all girls, especially those in or at risk of entering the juvenile justice and child protection systems. Our core value is to “see the girl” as Maria, a thirteen year old girl who was incarcerated challenged us to do: “See me for who I am and who I can become.” The Girls Leadership Council embodies our core values and exemplifies our mission. Joyful, playful, shy, thoughtful, spirited, brave and determined young women, well on their way to becoming remarkable adults. Extraordinary moments. Extraordinary memories. Extraordinary girls and young women.
In the above photo, from left to right: Lawanda (in blue) with interns, members of Girls’ Leadership Council and Helen Lane.