Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Artful expressions: LEAP experiences

The universe is a deep, still body of water in which we all swim. Every move that we make creates a ripple that echoes across reality – and the deeper that we swim, the more force those waves carry and the farther they may span.” – Cristen Rodgers

Art and Poem by *Amber Nolli:

Experiences at Girls’ LEAP rippling through our being.

Ripples accumulating into waves,
rolling on,
continuing and spreading.

Soon our ripples touch where sky and water meet.
casting a glow across the sparkling waters,
that free-floats on the air for all to breathe.

If ocean is our collectivity,
what are we rippling? how are we touching its refection?

Q & A: defending self

What are you defending when you’re defending yourself?

"When I defend myself, I am defending my physical body as well as my dignity. I deserve physical and psychological safety, and someone who intends to violate that violates my body and mind. I defend myself because I deserve to feel empowered and to be able to make autonomous decisions about myself."

"My body, my right to say no, my right to be listened to"

"I’m defending my autonomy!"

"I think when I am defending myself, I am defending my freedom as a free spirit. I feel it's important to be allowed to be an individual and have your own ways of thinking and viewing. When I am defending myself, I am defending the voices of those who share similar stories to mine, that may not have found the strength within themselves yet to speak up. Standing up for myself shows others that it is "okay to not be okay" and it's okay to have a voice."

"When I am defending myself, I am defending my right to my bodily autonomy, and I am defending my right to say 'no.' I am also defending any and every girl the attacker might target in the future."

"My right to exist as a human in the world"

Friday, July 29, 2016

Meet Our Summer College Interns

Erika Marcinek, Teen Mentor Program Assistant:  I am currently a senior studying Gender Studies, Business, and Social Work at Skidmore College in upstate New York. With a passion for women's rights, social justice, mediation conflict resolution, and empowerment through education, I was drawn to Girls' LEAP because of the organization's agenda to help empower girls and women through physical, academic, and artistic avenues. I personally have taken a couple of self defense and rape aggression defense courses at my school but expect to learn loads more throughout my experience at LEAP! I love to dance, and I dabble in tap, modern, and flamenco. I also love listening to punk/rock/all-women's bands and host a school radio show during the school year.

Noely Mendoza, Team Leader: Hi! I am originally from California, but I love traveling and discovering new places. I am a student at Amherst College majoring in Film and Media. In my free time I enjoy baking, watching documentaries, and working out. I am super excited to be part of this summer's  Girls' LEAP program. I am looking forward to teaching young girls the importance of strengthening themselves physically and emotionally, and thereby building confidence that will benefit them both now and in the future. 

Alex VanRooyen, Team Leader: Hi! I’m Alex, I’m a sophomore at Columbia University studying human rights, and my interests including watching and playing sports, listening to music and spending time outside. I’m very excited to be part of the Girls’ LEAP team this summer! I’m looking forward to spending time with so many awesome women, having conversations about important social issues, and learning and teaching self defense!

Christina Joseph, Full Time Teaching Woman: Hi there! My name is Christina Joseph. I am studying Psychology and Studio Art at Framingham State. Some of my hobbies include arts and crafts, baking, and volleyball. You'll find me singing and dancing throughout the day, trying to pet as many dogs as I can. This summer I'm excited to learn about all the lessons Girls' LEAP has to offer me and its members. Also, meeting new people is pretty fun. I'm looking forward to that as well.
Shoshi Singer, Full Time Teaching Woman: Hello! My name is Shoshi Singer and I am delighted to be working with Girl’s LEAP this summer! During the school year, I attend Brandeis University where I enjoy taking classes in Psychology, Law, Biology, and Women and Gender Studies. I am a Resident Advisor for first year women and an active member in the Jewish community. This past year I performed in Vagina Monologues! I hail from Portland, OR where I enjoy exploring the great outdoors, tie-dye and socks and sandals. Looking forward to meeting you and hearing your story this summer!


Friday, July 22, 2016

Girls' LEAP provides a Safe Space in our Communities

The problem...
30% of Boston girls report that they rarely or never feel safe in many of the places that they frequent regularly 

The Girls' LEAP Difference...

Telling this story made me a little emotional but it's more reflective for me. It made me realize how much I grew and the confidence I built up during my time at Girls' LEAP."   ~ Alani, Age 14

Girls' LEAP creates safe spaces in which girls can experiment with healthy risk taking, test their limits, and discover their deep reserves of power and courage. This space allows girls the freedom to express themselves, make mistakes and work together to solve problems.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Girls' LEAP Teaches Girls how to De-escalate a situation

The problem...
24.4% of girls grades 9-12 reported being in a physical fight in the last 12 months

The Girls' LEAP Difference...

"I learned that whenever you might feel uncomfortable you don't have to resort to a physical defense method.  You can always talk it out with the person so it wouldn't have to escalate as much." 
                                                                             ~ Aminata, age 16

At Girls' LEAP we develop girls' conflict resolution skills and teach violence de-escalation techniques. Results from our programs indicate that 95% of our girls learn to demonstrate a diverse and tangible skill set to assess risk and address conflict. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rachael's Story

My name is Rachael Corbitt and I grew up in South Boston.

My LEAP story began my first year of high school when I was 14 my advisor
Rachael Corbitt telling her story
introduced me to Girls’ LEAP.  I first became a program participant, then teen mentor, then moved onto an internship and was soon a college volunteer (known Teaching Woman).  I’ve spent about 6 active years at Girls’ LEAP, however the connection is 8 years and impact will be life lasting.

I graduated from UMass Darmouth in December with a BA in Psychology.  Now I am working as at the South Shore Mental Health Hospital as a Residential Rehab Educator.

When I started Girls’ LEAP I was very insecure, and unsure of whom I wanted to become.  Girls’ LEAP taught me I have potential and capacity to do anything I set my mind to & that it’s okay to say “no” when need be.

Going away to college was a huge transition for me.  I felt that once lit flame in me become dim. I felt lost and insecure and I began to follow instead of lead.

I tested my limits and made mistakes. One of Girls’ LEAP mentors Kristen Cuneo always said, “It’s ok to make mistakes, practice makes better; and don’t give up on yourself.” I find myself hearing this quote from her when I’m feeling doubtful and its helps me gain my courage back.

Rachael with her Girls' LEAP
Mentor Kristen Cuneo
Now as a 22 year old and reflecting upon the long term impact of Girls’ LEAP in my life – I mentally picture some of the charts and diagrams we used in program to help de-escalate situations. I use these in my personal life and in my work with clients.  A few other big take always are; having advocates who see the potential in me and the willingness to be supportive, like Kristen.

I’m very grateful that I found this program at such a young age.

Girls’ LEAP taught me to be proud of whom I am and surround myself with advocates and women who are just as proud of me and themselves. I now know how important it is to have a connection to powerful women so that I can have a powerful connection to myself.  With that I’m confidence my flame will never go out thanks to the support I found at Girls’ LEAP.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Porsha's Story

Porsha McConnell started at Girls' LEAP as a participant at age 14, continued as a Teen Mentor and then as a college intern was a Teaching Woman.  At age 23 she credits LEAP with making her the leader and advocate she is today.  Porsha shared her story of the lasting impact that her experience at Girls' LEAP has had on her life at our Annual Gala.

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, my name is Porsha McConnell. I am a former Girls’ LEAP program participant, teen mentor and college volunteer (also known as teaching woman). I am 23 years old and in May I’ll complete my undergrad degree in Criminal Justice from Bridgewater State University. Currently I work for City of Boston, Division of Youth Engagement & Employment.

While working with the Boston Centers for Youth and Families I was introduced to Girls’ LEAP. When I was 14 I started Girls’ LEAP as a participant. At first, I hated Girls’ LEAP! 

My friends and I were terrors in class, we didn’t participate, we didn’t listen, and we made things hard for our teachers. I remember thinking, “I don’t need to be here, I know how to defend myself: I know how to fight!” I had a really bad attitude.

People told me I was intimidating. Originally, I wasn’t sure about the Teen Mentor Program. In the end I decided to turn in my application AND I’m really glad I did!

I stand here today because I. am. Girls’. LEAP. 

Through my experience, and the relationships I have developed with this phenomenal organization, I have become the leader and advocate I am today.
Girls LEAP taught me to break the silence. I have always been big on self-advocacy however, LEAP has given me that extra push to go outside myself and advocate for others.  I was taught how to use MY VOICE to empower and uplift not only young girls but also young people.

With this, I learned the importance of sticking together as women, Girls LEAP taught me to be unapologetic for whom I am, to value my voice, my strength (physical, mental and emotional) and my personal stake in empowering young girls daily. Most importantly, Girls LEAP has shown me that it is okay to say “NO!” …and mean it. 

I would like to thank you all for coming out tonight in support of this amazing organization, and thank you for listening."