What’s your girl power? Have you really thought about your power and how you can use it to build others up? One inspiring Atlanta woman has and she’s transforming the lives of young girls one international trip at a time. Tameka Kee is the Founder & CEO of the Power of Girls, a nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia whose mission is to serve, inspire and empower young girls to develop into confident, well-rounded global leaders through mentorship, team building and cultural experiences.
In a recent sit down with Kee, we talked about the impact her organization has on the girls they serve, the curriculum they follow and how they connect girls in the states with others in different countries. But first, we wanted to know what series of events lead to the start of this beautiful organization.
“The moment it happened for me is when I was in middle school. When I had the opportunity, being in a lower middle class family, of actually traveling to Greece and Italy. It just completely changed me. It gave me this boost. I was very curious afterwards like if they’re doing that and eating this in Greece and Italy, what are they eating in Nigeria? Or what are they doing in Jamaica? And since then I’ve traveled a lot, but it’s something different when you take girls and you see it through their eyes, and I’ve had the privilege of doing that so it’s been great.”
Each year, they select a class of The Power of Girls to participate in a year-long “Power House” curriculum focused on developing confidence, leadership skills and self-awareness. The program stands on 5 pillars:
Confidence – owning who you are and believing in your ability
Leadership – using your voice and talents to inspire change
Empowerment – supporting and lifting each other up every step of the way
Self-awareness – looking within to see yourself clearly
Cultural-awareness – expanding your perspective and worldview
Kee talks more about the mission of the organization and says that “we want to make sure we’re exposing them to confidence. We want to give them the tools and the skill sets that they need to have confidence because once you have that, you have a lot of things. And then leadership. We want to prepare them for leadership, but also show them the opportunities. Because of course, at this time and age, a lot of what they’re receiving is from their parents. A lot of what they’re receiving is from school. But I want them to look at their inner self to say “what is it that I really want to do?” And then of course the cultural awareness piece. When we put our curriculum together we’re always trying to tie in something that they’re able to say, “Wow, I didn’t know that that was going on Haiti” or I didn’t realize that girls in Mexico have the same issues I have.”
Evolving each girl throughout this twelve month learning experience, which is designed to create understanding of the global challenges impacting girls and their communities, has been eye opening for participants to say the least. Each lesson explores the lives of a girl in one country around the world, which has sparked interest and appreciation for international travel, service to others and social action. So it’s only right that the programming concludes with an international trip.
“What we’re trying to make sure is that the girls understand that a girl in Cambodia and a girl in the united states both have an opportunity for education, but the way they get there is so different. The girl in Cambodia has so many different things that she has to look at, from just dropping out to probably facing being a bride at 12” Kee shares.
The impact that The Power of Girls has had on its participants has been outstanding. Being able to help a girl realize the leader within her, the opportunities that await her and the world available for her to explore is life changing.
“One girl came in really quiet. I want to say she was in the 8th grade when she started with us,” Kee said. “So the other day I’m trying to find an earring. I couldn’t’ find this earring and I kind of took my jewelry box apart. The girls gave me notes when we came back from London and I found her note. I had never read it. We went to London 2 years ago, and to see her now flourishing in high school, just so bold, she’s just a completely different girl and we just appreciate who she’s blossomed to be.”
We knew that this experience couldn’t just impact the girls who signed up. It must have also inspired the lives of the women in charge. “It’s taught me patience,” Kee said. “I’m use to directing adults you know, and when you’re working with kids you have to give them space to breathe. It’s taught me to slow down and give them time.”
Kee says The Power of Girls is “really for any girl. We are here for all girls.”
For more information on The Power of Girls program visit www.thepowerofgirls.org