Amazing Things Kids Can Do Given the Platform

I must admit that I have found myself at a lost of words when I read about the amazing things accomplished by our youth today.  Some of my deepest thoughts often leads me to wonder if I had the support of my parents and the same platform I provide for my own daughter, what accolades would I have to share from my past today.  I remember being that kid in class that sat there bored and unchallenged– I did not know how to speak up and ask for more and to be quite frank, at home, there was no one guiding me or setting expectations.  I would lose my focus in class and begin to interrupt class with my girl chatter.  When my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Wiggins said, “your mouth” will ultimately ruin my future, I sat up and expressed my disinterest in her and her class. Well, I actually enjoyed Ms. Wiggins class, but I was my own boss!  I wish I could see Ms. Wiggins today and thank her for recognizing my potential and caring enough to try to guide a little lost girl.

Wonder Emry and Thessalonika Arzu-Embry Source: naturallymoi.com

Thessalonika Arzu-Embry is a 14-year old girl earning her undergrad degree from Chicago State University this year. Thessalonika’s story is one of the most recent stories that inspired me to write this post. Her mother, Wonder said, “The parents are the most influential force in their own children’s lives, and they have the power to influence them to do good and to go forward.” This statement reminded me why I constantly explain to my peers, that I am only providing a platform for my daughter to take advantage of opportunities and that she is empowered to choose her own path. My journey with Nadia is exciting because she has her own expectations, which are typically higher than mine and further challenges me to become a better parent each day. Nadia came home in 6th grade with a catalog from The Taft School, and explained to me that she desired to attend this boarding school in Connecticut.  Although I was in shock and could not agree to this notion of boarding school for high school, I allowed my daughter to dream and explore her opportunities. Honestly, I was not planning to entertain the idea and figured she would move on.

Nadia’s desires to attend boarding school became more prevalent in 7th grade, so as a good parent should do, I stepped out of her way and joined her band wagon. :) I am thankful that my daughter has the determination to pursue her goals and resiliency to overcome the challenges that may place hurdles in the road to success. Nadia is in her sophomore year at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut.  She is not only excelling academically– Nadia is committed to community service, learning Mandarin Chinese, serves as a leader in various school clubs, and Co-captain of the Junior Varsity Volleyball team. Miss Porters provides a wonderful environment for girls and is a second home for my daughter. I provide the platform for Nadia to jump as high as she can! I am thankful to be that force of strength for my daughter.

Nadia and Thessalonika’s accomplishments are just two of thousands of success stories from youth and girls around the globe. I am thankful for my past, lack of guidance and all, because my past has become my platform to jump higher as an adult. It is my childhood experiences that give me the passion to work with youth and make a difference.  It is my vision for the GirlGeeks program to be a platform for girls around the world, one community at a time, even if this means one girl at a time. As my dear sister-friend, Dr. Bettina Love stated, “stay in your lane” and do what you can to help our world be a better place.

Natina Marie Adams
Founder, GirlGeeks

Art classes with GirlGeeks

The first session was a success! I learned how teach my lessons with both easy guiding steps and fun interactive games. I worked with my partner Nadia and we taught our students the basics and different kinds of art, for example; Nature, Manga, Portraits, and Landscapes. Every student had their own personal touch to their pictures that I enjoyed, each had their own unique style.

I found out that I love teaching others about the artwork I do everyday, like I’m helping others create whatever they want with proper steps. Another thing I favored in the class was the ‘Icebreakers activity’ that gave us a little social game time with the students on what they like to do and their art experiences.

Join our next class on July 29th!

The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.”-Jerzy Kosinski

Sincerely,

Anu.

First class in session!

For a couple of weeks, Anu, my partner, and I have been meeting up and trying to visualize our first art enrichment class with GirGeeks. We discussed finances, times, and materials; even though this took dedicated time, I was truly excited to see the outcome of all our hard work. Now that it has been a week from our first class, I can reflect on how exhilarating it was to teach our students about our knowledge on the different aspects of art.

So far in the GirlGeek program, I have learned on how to schedule and plan out an event, and I have overcame the awkwardness of teaching a class. These skills have allowed me to do my own event planning and having the confidence to encounter obstacles on the way.

The only thing I would change for our next class on Monday, July 29, is to create a step-by-step process for teaching a certain art theme. This will give me the ability to pause at appropriate times to help the kids with any problems they might have.

Please join us for Monday for more fun and exciting art enrichment! Art Class Registration

“A work of art is the unique result of an unique temperament.” – Oscar Wilde

~ Nadia Lanique

GirlGeeks: Our girls at work

It is amazing to see two teen girls work together to brainstorm and plan their business venture. Nadia and Anu joined forces to create unique art enrichment classes. Nadia and Anu have very different backgrounds in visual art, so they are also learning new skills from each other in the process. Nadia’s interest in visual art led her to explore Architectural Engineering and Design, while Anu has taken a strong interest in Anime art and developing animated characters for stories.

As the girl’s mentor, my goal is to show the them how to start a micro-business from the beginning stages. It is very challenging for teenagers to take on such a task, but Anu and Nadia are embracing every minute of the experience. During the first two weeks after training and orientation, they have accomplished so much, including developing their own curriculum for art classes.

Other milestones:

  • Launched Facebook fan page
  • Acquired over 100 followers on Instagram
  • Created flyers in Photoshop
  • Developed a marketing plan
  • Held a mock training class
  • Created a schedule for classes
  • Created registration forms in Google Docs

Artshops by Nadia and Anu will kick off next week at Smyrna Community Center in Smyrna, Georgia on July 8, 2013. See full details on Eventbrite. Register your son or daughter today!

What’s next? The girls plan to take their classes to daycare centers, youth organizations, and schools to offer Artshops on site. Please contact Natina if you’re interested in learning more about how GirlGeeks can bring fun, engaging and unique art enrichment to your kids.

When you learn, teach, When you get, give. -Maya Angelou

Natina.Marie
info@forgirlgeeks.org
404.585.7022

Joining GirlGeeks

Ever since I was young, I had a thing for visual art. I loved imagining my own characters in my head and expressing them on paper. I really think all the different looking kiddy cartoons I used to watch inspired my passion for animating.

When I was about the age of eight, I attended an art class, there I learned how to create many different kinds of art. Thereafter, I learned how to use henna to create body art.

When I turned nine, my parents allowed me to create my own blog as my birthday present. I developed a great interest in writing poems, fictional and narrative stories. Over the years, I have done many portraits, sketches and henna tattoos for others, which allowed me to build a portfolio that speaks for itself.

My experiences over the last several years has only increased the passion I have to work in my aspired fields. Recently, I joined GirlGeeks to learn ways that I can establish connections with other young people who are excited about teaching, learning art, and gaining more entrepreneurship skills.

Sincerely,

Anu.

Visit Malika’s World to see my art and writing portfolio.

GirlGeeks: Financial Literacy First

Each girl that joins the GirlGeeks program, begin their journey with an online personal finance and banking class called Banking on our Future (BOOF). BOOF is provided by a global non-profit organization called Operation HOPE.

Financial Literacy is our first priority for GirlGeeks. We as mentors cannot begin teaching girls about entrepreneurship before making sure they understand the basics of managing money.

Once the girls complete the BOOF personal finance and banking course, they receive a certificate of completion and $25 to open a new savings account. Thereafter, the girls can apply to participate in our GirlGeeks Matching Funds program, which will allow them to earn $1 on every dollar saved up to $125.

The GirlGeeks program ensures that every girl that participate in the program has the financial resources to start their entrepreneurship journey.

We would love to offer a free financial literacy workshop for your youth (girls and boys). Please contact Natina Marie at info@forgirlgeeks.org or 404.585.7022 for more details.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

Natina.Marie

My passion

Last week, I launched our website http://www.forgirlgeeks.org. Today, I decided that I should share the news with my Facebook family and I am overwhelmed with joy. It always surprises me when there are people that I don’t talk to everyday but are always listening and willing to support me and my daughter. I am forever grateful for my village and everyone I’ve met in Atlanta, which has played such a vital part of my emotional well-being while being thousands of miles away from home and family. I love you all.

I would need to write a book to share my full story, but I will begin with sharing a little about my biggest passion. I grew up in a small urban city, Rochester, New York. I am number six of nine children that my mother attempted to raise alone. As a youth in Rochester, I was subject to learning how to live and navigate through streets plagued by gangs, violence, drugs, and prostitution. It was very common that these same issues made it into my home. At the same time, there were outreach programs that reached out to youth like myself on the regular basis. I was fortunate enough to join Southwest Area Neighborhood Association (S.W.A.N.), where a woman by the name of Sally took myself and my best friend under her wing.

As part of S.W.A.N. and many of their pilot programs, I received valuable life-long skills through volunteer work and paid summer programs. I found a safe-haven and a means to survival. Sally went over and above– She took my friend and I to board meetings so we can learn how the organization ran their business and taught us how to communicate with professionals. I remember attending a meeting and Sally asked my friend and I for our opinion. She wanted us to share our thoughts on the proposed programs. I was thinking… who me? The poor girl from the west side? She was planting seeds that I was not aware of until much later in life.

It was the selflessness and love from people like Sally and my stepmother Linda that nurtured my passion for giving back and helping youth navigate through stumbling blocks along the way.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to partner with YMCA YET, Spelman College, Pace Atlanta and Atlanta Public Schools to provide technology training to middle school youth. During this time, my passion became very clear while I worked with these kids every week. Although I did not include leadership and entrepreneurship in the curriculum, I found myself guiding these teenagers on how they can use their talents to make money. My goal was to make sure they had survival skills that would possibly keep them away from making poor choices during hard times. Believe me when I say, these kids dealt with serious adversities and had so many mountains to climb to become successful, let alone graduate from high school.

After almost a seven year hiatus, I am back pursuing my biggest passion to pay-it-forward and educate youth. Don’t get me wrong, I have many loves such as writing, music and technology. But, my heart is filled with joy just thinking about making a difference for ONE teenager.

So, why girls? You may be wondering why I decided to focus on girls this time around. Maybe not. First, my daughter has inspired everything I accomplished over the last fifteen years. I have poured my heart and soul into raising her and providing the guidance that I felt she needed to be successful. I became an education advocate and volunteered many hours to organizations that provided opportunities for my daughter to learn and broaden her horizons. Despite all my efforts to provide the best for my daughter, I couldn’t shield her from the obvious issues that teenagers deal with in school and relationships. She had to learn how to embrace her GEEK at the same time find friends that embraced her. In doing so, she had pitfalls that only she could control and I had to watch from the sidelines. This was the only way she would become a better leader and self-advocate. I learned the real value of a teenager having the proper support and advice during these critical years. It saddens me to think about the girls without anyone to guide them along the way.

Over the last seven years, I have worked for a large company and faced many personal challenges that left me questioning my strengths and abilities to DO SOMETHING BIG! To my benefit, I have already accomplished so much in life that constantly reminds me that I CAN, I DID and I WILL accomplish my goals and turn my passions/dreams into a reality. It is from this pain I felt from being a GEEK woman in a male dominated world, that I ultimately decided to focus on building the self-esteem and courage in young girls, so they will have the confidence later in life to pursue any dream, despite the challenges they face along the way.

This is just the beginning…

Natina.Marie