On Tuesday, July 12, GrassROOTS Super Camp opened one of their events to the public, “Lunch and Learn: Politics. ‘How Can Black Girls Lead?'”
The event was held at The Episcopal Church of Saint Andrew and Holy Communion in South Orange. It included lunch and a panel moderated by Newark Today Producer Alexandra Hill. The panel consisted of three successful Black women with wide ranges of experiences in politics and beyond: Tai Cooper (Chief Policy Adviser in Newark, NJ), Jeannine LaRue (Public Relations Specialist) and Lauren Mims (Assistant Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans).
GrassROOTS Super Camp is a four-week summer camp created by the GrassROOTS Community Foundation. The mission of the camp is to develop leadership skills and confidence in young girls of African descent. The GrassROOTS Community Foundation works with ten cities, including Newark, NJ, that are considered to be experiencing high incidence rates of poor health outcomes. Girls can start as young as 1st grade and continue until 8th grade.
These Super Girls spend their four weeks learning about physical, mental and sexual health, as well as the economics of health. Each week is themed based on one principle taken from the African principle of harmony called Maat — Truth, Order, Balance and Reciprocity. The Lunch and Learn: Politics event was a part of the first week focusing on Truth.
The event allowed the Super Girls to pose questions to any of the panelists. The girls were eager to ask the women about their experiences — many sat waving their hands in hopes to get a chance to hear an answer. The girls had some particularly impressive questions to ask. Highlights include: “What are your political views on the current presidential election?” “What did you want to be when you were younger?” “Has anyone ever told you you couldn’t do something?” and “How can I find my voice and speak up in small groups of friends about issues I care about?”
Staying consistent with the principle of Truth, all three women offered candid and direct insights to the young girls. They held nothing back as they spoke of the extraordinary importance of finding their voices as a minority women and using them to create meaningful change.
Tenisha Malcolm, one of Super Camp’s team members, spoke of all of the different events and activities planned for the girls. The camp partners with multiple local businesses so they can visit urban farms, read to nursery school children, take Zumba and Tai-Chi classes, and learn African drums and dancing.
After the event, Sonia Fergus, a parent and volunteer at the Super Camp, explained how much she has seen her daughter, Tori, grow over the course of the last six years of the camp.
“It’s her medicine,” Fergus said, “Tori found her voice last summer. Her confidence built and she flowered.”
And what was Tori’s favorite part of Super Camp? “Having these opportunities and meeting new people,” she said, smiling.
For more information about GrassROOTS Community Foundation click here.