This is a guest blogpost written by YO S.O.S. alum and current youth intern, Tishana Chambers, sharing the inspiring story of the Blossom Be You Project, started by YO S.O.S. alum Kelcy Hercules and supported by Tishana and other college -age young women.
Blossom Be You Project
The “Blossom Be You Project” is a young women’s empowerment program started by YO S.O.S. Alumni, Kelcy Hercules. Kelcy developed the program with the support of the Mediation Center, Dida Academy, and the Brooklyn Community Foundation. The program focuses on self-love, sisterhood, empowerment, and personal development. The goal of the Blossom Be You Project is to help build confidence in teenage girls, which is vital as it impacts education, social awareness, and self-esteem. Kelcy and her staff launched their first program cycle in the summer of 2017, providing 6 weeks of educational enrichment workshops where a group of 8 young adults collectively came together to holistically support 12 young teenage girls from the ages of 14-18, in hopes of helping them reach their goals and reminding them that it’s essential to always BE YOU.
Saturday July 8th marked the start of the program. The groups took place at the Mediation Center’s Legal Hand office in Crown Heights. At the “BeYou Workshop#1” mentors and mentees joined together to get to know one another, and after an exciting game of everyone’s favorite ice breaker, “ The Big Wind Blows,” the mentees shared some of their safe space rules for the group. In the next hour, key speaker Brianna Author gave an eye opening and informative presentation on “Branding Yourself,” teaching the girls what it means to “Build Your Brand.” She provided insightful examples such as mastering the optics – dressing the part, using social media wisely, and remaining consistent. Brianna left the girls with tips on what a good brand looks like and steps that need to be taken to achieve that successful brand.
On July 15th, Workshop 2 took place and involved an ice breaker game called “Mentor/Mentee speed dating.” In this game, the mentors and mentees were asked a series of questions and were able to shed light on their values and thoughts. Shortly after, Kalijah Stokes joined as a guest presenter and led an inspiring and heartfelt “Self Love“ workshop, in which she shared some stories of her not always loving herself and the trials and tribulations she’s had to overcome that led her to understand that self love is the greatest love of all.
Workshop 3 was led by Hilda and Hadiyah, young adult mentors of the program. Hilda spoke about self acceptance and having a positive body image. She finished off with an activity based on body image, in which she allowed the mentees to draw their body to reflect how they see themselves. Next, Hadiyah gave an engaging presentation on the importance of safe sex, proper contraceptive protocol, STI’s and effective ways to communicate with your partner about sex.
The remaining workshops covered a variety of subjects including college and career readiness, goal setting, health and excercise, and self-care and self-reflection.
At the end of beginning and end of each workshop the girls chanted their ‘BeYou Pledge’ which states:
I can be many things, but I will always be a blossom.
Rooted in responsibility,
Showered in self-love,
Watered in wisdom,
And emanating excellence.
I strive to be the change that I want to see.
I am one, but we are many,
And together when all else weathers,
Blossoms bloom Be-YOU-tifully!
Blossom Be You will cap their summer session with a fundraising summit on August 26th at the Cambria Hotel and Suites in Times Square. To purchase tickets, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-first-annual-blossom-be-you-summit-tickets-36779198573