Mighty Writers has received a $10,000 grant from the Valentine Foundation, a Philadelphia-area grant making organization that provides charitable funds to programs that empower women and girls. Mighty Writers aims to teach Philadelphia kids ages 7 to 17 to think and write with clarity though workshops, classes and events. The grant will allow the organization to take its girl-themed workshops into the community.
The one-time Girl Power workshops will take place in several middle schools run by Universal Companies as well as local girls groups. The workshops will be facilitated by teaching artists instructing on topics close to their hearts. Recently, a Girl Power workshop was held at Achieving Independence Center, a program dedicated to helping young people who are aging out of foster care.
“We were able to book 12 workshops. Our original goal was 10 but we received funding for two more,” said Rachel Loeper, the education director for Mighty Writers.
“Mighty Writers featured Girl Power Poetry in the summer of 2009, so the idea of empowering young women in Philadelphia has been there from the get-go,” Loeper added. Girl Power Poetry, an in-house workshop led by Jamie Hunter, explored poetry by prominent female African American, Latino and Hispanic writers and helped girls write powerful poetry of their own.
For one of the Girl Power workshops on the road, teaching artist and Philadelphia-based actress Caroline Rhoads will be leading “Girl Power Theater” for girls ages 10 and older. She got the idea for the workshop after teaching several groups of at-risk teens in Philly.
“The goal of the workshop is to equip the girls with a better sense of self, and in turn, pride or confidence that will hopefully help them see the awesome women that they are,” Rhoads said.
Her workshop will contain improvisational exercises with a focus on movement and character work. Rhoads said it forces students to have a heightened sense of awareness when it comes to their bodies and how they move through the space.
“These exercises will culminate in the girls creating their own alter-egos or fierce characters,” Rhoads said.
Another workshop will be run by Philadelphia City Paper arts editor Mikala Jamison. She’ll be teaching a workshop entitled, “Girls Rule the World” to girls ages 12 and up.
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Jamison has been working with Mighty Writers for the past few years. The first workshop she taught was a memoir workshop for boys and girls. Jamison felt the girls couldn’t really share their stories freely in the same room as the boys and suggested a girls-only memoir workshop to Loeper.
The recent grant helped make her workshop a reality.
“I wanted this workshop to be similar in that the girls were writing about their own life experiences in narrative and through journal entries, but I wanted them to feel comfortable talking about their experiences with other girls,” Jamison said.
Jamison said she hopes the girls will discover mutual experiences in the group. If the girls get to see that other girls had similar experiences, they will feel less alone.
Ann Atkins, author of the Flash History Series will be leading a workshop entitled “Grit for Girls” for girls ages 12 and up. Atkins has written books on former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, teacher and politician Golda Meir, and chemist, and physicist Marie Curie.
Atkins plans to help the girls explore the grit, or steadfast determination and ability to combat adversity, that made these women successful, as well as help them sharpen their critical thinking skills.
“The examples of these historical women give encouragement for these girls to not give up hope, but instead have faith in themselves and the good in society – things are better,” Atkins said.
Image via Mary Anna Rodabaugh-30-
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