Save Our Daughters Too, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring and empowering young women with life skills, hosted its 2nd annual Red Carpet Ceremony to celebrate girls’ self-worth and value.
Dozens of people filled 3D’s Community Empowerment Center, located at 586 Seaman Ave., on June 8 to hear about the girls’ journeys with the organization’s CEO and Founder, Jacqueline Harris.
A group of about 10 girls shared their experiences with the organization.
“It teaches us how to love ourselves,” said Kievona Shelton, “and how to embrace ourselves,” Ariel Rodgers chimed in, adding that it’s beneficial to be surrounded by like-minded girls and women.
Harris founded the organization in 2016, after she experienced struggles when her daughter, Maya, was bullied in sixth grade. She said she saw academic derailment, sadness, loneliness and fear. Harris, who has worked in the social work field for 36 years, said she was unsure about what to do. “I was trained to take care of other people, but when it hit home, I was lost.”
She began to Google programs that might help her daughter, but didn’t find much, except for programs for boys, she said. “And boys need work, too, but I said, girls need work, too. We got to save our daughters, too.”
And the organization was born. “I believe that every girl should feel that they are worthy. I want to make sure that they leave with much confidence and abundance in life,” Harris said.
Beginning last August, the group of girls met every Saturday for eight consecutive weeks as part of Harris’ leadership program titled “I Am Worthy.” It consisted of various workshops that aimed to infuse the young women with self-worth, Harris said. The eighth workshop was the Red Carpet Ceremony.
“The idea of the red carpet is to give girls a sense of worth,” she explained. “How many girls get to stand and walk on a red carpet?”
Three of the girls sang, and one of them danced for a crowd of parents and guardians. Organizers said the event was intended to be a place where the girls could safely show off their talents while being supported and having their confidence boosted. A few of the parents in the audience spoke about the program and how it has affected their daughters.
Kim Daniels, Jada Hairston’s mother, told the crowd that Jada’s confidence spiked after participating in the program.
“It was an amazing experience for myself and Jada,” Daniels said, adding that Jada struggled with believing in herself. “But this past year, she joined [the] Chorus and was doing a lot of other things, and she involved herself more, so I was very, very proud — that was a product and a testimony of this program. You’ve been blessed to have such a fortunate program like this — I wish I had something like this when I was younger … This is an investment into their future.”
Tiyanna Washington, LMSW, a youth mental health advocate, served as the event’s keynote speaker. She chanted affirmations, or phrases of encouragement, with the girls and shared pieces of advice. She recalled what her mother had told her growing up.
“She looked me in the eyes and she said, ‘T, don’t you ever let someone else’s words determine how you feel about yourself. Only you control your narrative, only you control your story.’”
Hempstead Town Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby presented the girls with certificates of recognition, but could not attend the event.
Harris said the program is not only offered to young girls, but to women, as well. She brought in a women’s empowerment coach who has been meeting with some of the girls’ mothers and grandparents. Additionally, many people have been asking if she could start a program for boys, too, which she said is in the planning process.
For more information about the organization, visit www.saveourdaughterstoo.com or facebook.com/saveourdaughterstoo.
“My goal is to leave an imprint on every single girl here — and the ones before that — that their worth and their value is extremely important,” Harris said. “And you will face challenges as you go, but if you know that you are worthy, and you have value, a lot of that won’t permeate you.”