July 23 2014

For me, summer was a time to goof off, but the youth in our 14 Building Healthy Communities (BHC) sites have something else on their mind, in addition to having some fun.

They are on a quest to be better leaders to improve their communities. I am so pleased to announce our first-ever young women’s retreat going on this week at the same time as our 3rd Annual Sons & Brothers summer camp.

As a father of a daughter, I am happy to say that, today, women are no longer bound by past stereotypes and expectations. They are doctors, lawyers, judges and CEOs. They have the power to write their own narratives, and in doing so, they are making the world a better place.

From July 23-27, close to fifty young women will participate in the inaugural Sisterhood Rising Leadership Retreat on the campus of UC Santa Barbara. These young women will have the opportunity to relax, refresh, and bond, while participating in retreat activities designed to accomplish the following goals:
•    Developing a foundation for women to be lifelong leaders for health equity in California.
•    Building sisterhood and healthy relationships across our BHC sites.
•    Taking time for personal well-being and healing to promote social-emotional health.
•    Empowering young women around their narrative using a gender and racial justice lens.
•    Fun!

Across the 14 BHC sites, young women and female Youth Organizers have been leading campaigns to improve their schools and neighborhoods for both themselves and the boys and young men in their communities. This inaugural Sisterhood Rising Leadership Retreat will help these young women to continue to grow as leaders through activities that will help them dream about what they can accomplish for themselves and all women, while flexing their leadership muscle. They’ll be learning about the intersections between gender and race, deconstructing beauty and body image ideals, examining trauma and its impact on their lives and communities, as well as discussing a number of other topics relevant to the development of their critical consciousness as young women leaders.

They’ll also have fun which is incredibly important to a healthy mind, body and spirit. They’ll tackle rope courses, rock climbing, paddle boarding, and all kinds of challenging physical activities. And they’ll be able to develop lasting friendships with young women leaders from across the state. All of these activities will help boost their self-confidence and create stronger bonds, which will make them better leaders.

But none of this would have happened had it not been for three staff who took the lead on this endeavor. I offer my special thanks to Program Managers Margarita Luna and Jennifer Chheang, and Program Associate Christie Cardenas. Their seemingly boundless energy and bright spirits will surely result in a healing and rejuvenating retreat for these incredible young women leaders.

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