More than 30 girls from the Austin community participated in the Campaign for a Drug Free Westside’s United Leaders program, which ended its summer Saturday meetings with a “Rites of Passage” event Aug. 4 at the Austin Library, 5615 W. Race St.
The United Leaders program, in its second summer, teaches girls, ages 6-17, how to become leaders by providing opportunities to enhance communication and collaboration skills and self-esteem, and exposes them to other cultures and high-achieving adults. Diversity training is also included to ensure the girls learn how to respect others.
“We teach them to love themselves and one another and to see their value to the community,” the program’s Barbara Hopkins said in a press release. “We teach them to respect everyone. They may not like everyone, but they must respect everyone.”
Among their many experiences this summer, the girls met with women who work in various fields, including marketing personnel from PepsiCo and a female Chicago police commander, at their own career fair. During the fair, the girls learned about traditional and non-traditional jobs for girls and how to prepare and had the opportunity to meet the career fair presenters.
Along with African-American culture, the girls learned about Chinese and Latino culture by visiting ethnic neighborhoods. They also visited museums, had a picnic in Millennium Park, learned about Improv acting techniques, did scrapbooking and distributed non-partisan voter registration packets as a community service project.
“We want to expose them to as many things as possible so they will have the confidence and skills to become successful,” Hopkins said.
Photo by Kyle Hopkins.