LLA girls celebrate common ground and explore personal connections through empowerment workshops
Excited, but anxious.
That’s how LLA student Dashane’e Freeman described her first moments at the 2017 Young Women’s Health & Leadership Summit at UCSF.
“I was excited to be there, but I was anxious,” she said, about seeing teens from other schools with whom she has had friction in the past.
As the summit continued, Freeman said, her initial anxiety faded away.
“When I got there, none of that mattered. It was like we were all equal, we were all as one.”
The annual event, which drew over 100 girls and women from San Francisco schools, is designed to empower teen girls and create unity through exploring the common challenges that women and girls can work together to overcome.
“We can overcome the power that men have over us,” Freeman said, adding that too often racial and ethnic identity, sexual orientation, and class distinctions create separation between young women who, she believes, should focus on supporting one another instead.
“Yesterday, it was different,” Freeman said. “We’re all sisters, we all need to be there for each other.”
A dozen girls from LLA participated in the summit, joining in health, yoga, and digital media classes, all in the name of creating #SisterSupport. The event culminated with all participants dancing together, performing for one another, and bonding as a united community.
After feeling shy at first, Freeman later volunteered to read a poem she had written in the days leading up to the summit.
A MOTHER’S CRY
A mother is supposed to be strong
Mothers are tough they hide the truth
To protect their daughters, to be strong for their daughters
To be the mother hers never was
A mother was crying, she believed in hope
For a second chance, to love and hold her daughter again
A mother who wasn’t proud, a mother’s cry but why
Only to have her little girl again
– Dashane’e Freeman
Her reading drew an enthusiastic response, and she felt a connection to the other girls that she had felt uncertain about earlier that day.
“Honestly, because of [the summit], we all talked, Freeman said. “What happened in the past is in the past.”
“If I saw those people tomorrow,” Freeman continued, “I wouldn’t hold the grudges we had before. I would still be cool from yesterday.”
“All that matters is now, and the future.”