SHE: Sisters, Healthy & Empowered is off to a great start! While the program’s official start date is not until July 2015, Sisterhood Agenda has begun identifying program participants and volunteers.
While the SHE program has been actively implemented in the United States, this year will be the first time this popular program has been offered to girls on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The SHE initiative in St. John was made possible by donors like you, the Rotary Club of St. John, and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
Toward the goal of increasing awareness, Sisterhood Agenda participated in the St. John Summer Fair on May 5, 2015. Representatives talked about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and how Sisterhood Agenda’s newly expanded SHE program includes trauma informed services, as well as water sports and fitness, plus sisterhood circles.
We are excited about future SHE program sessions for girls and many women expressed interest in SHE services for adult women.
Sisterhood Agenda's federal application to fund SHE Sisters Healhty & Empowered as a national public health prevention strategy for women and girls of African descent received very positive feedback; many strengths were noted and no weakness in our written proposal. However, the status of that application is "Approved/Unfunded." We were notified via written mail that the federal agency ran out of funds and funded a limited number of agencies. If they receive more funding, Sisterhood Agenda will be considered for funding.
Of course, we were truly disappointed! However, realizing that the most innovative projcts are not federal funding, we were encouraged to seek alternative sources of support, such as individual donors, corporations, and foundation funding. Siserhood Agenda is committed to making SHE Sisters Healthy & Empowered a reality for one of our most vulnerable populations.
We are researching alternatives and you are invited to join us in this effort as a donor, volunteer, or researcher!
According to the HRSA publication U.S. Teens in Our World: “Adolescence is characterized by rapid physical growth, significant physical and psychological changes, and changing dynamics in family and peer relationships. The large, rapid changes associated with adolescence may have major effects on the health of individuals and, conversely, variations in health may significantly affect the transitions of adolescence. Optimal health and well-being of adolescents in their daily lives is basic to their successful development into healthy adults.”
In July, Sisterhood Agenda hired a youth coordinator to implement its youth initatives and refine its public relations and advertising campaign to be more youth-centered. She will be trained for SHE: Sisters Healthy & Empowered program implementation in September for implementation at an outreach site (high school) in St. Thomas, part of the St. Thomas/St. John school district; there are no public high schools on the island of St. John and St. John students commute to high school.
Why is Sisterhood Agenda implementing SHE? The project focus is prevention and healing. One in three girls is sexually abused by age 18. Women are 50% more likely than men to have high adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Those with high ACEs are significantly more likely to have mental health and substance abuse problems, chronic physical illnesses, and early death. Women with high ACEs are prone to depression, are more likely to become victims of rape and domestic violence; two-thirds of all suicide attempts are attributable to ACEs.
Tourists come to the USVI to heal, but youth in the USVI often do not experience healing. SHE implementation will be more intense this year, with emphasis on a newly expanded African-centered, trauma-informed, and gender-responsive approach. The main objective of the newly expanded SHE initiative is to recognize, address, and diminish multiple major health disparities for Black females and promote healthy behavior. Its approach is holistic with mental, physical, and spiritual considerations.
Specifically, the SHE project will create and implement an effective public health prevention project that can be replicated in other communities to reduce disease by impacting: 1) obesity and overweight, 2) reproductive health: HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, teen pregnancy, 3) cancer, 4) diabetes, 5) mental health, 6) violence, and 7) substance abuse. These are the unfortunate health outcomes that disproportionately affect women and girls of African descent.
Sisterhood Agenda will use evidence-based activities for SHE implementation targeting girls ages 10-17 in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In addition to program activities, Sisterhood Agenda will recruit an intern and young bloggers to promote holistic health messages and healing with a viral marketing campaign. With successful local implementation and evaluation, SHE can scale for implementation in other communities.
Yes, we can all be SHE: Sisters Healthy & Empowered!
Did you know?
Eighty percent (80%) of African America women are overweight/obese. Obesity is a precursor for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
Heart attacks and strokes are the leading causes of premature death for racial minorities. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports heart disease as THE leading cause of death for African American women. Several medical conditions and lifestyle choices also increase risk: diabetes, overweight/obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.
Sisterhood Agenda is in the process of building its Sisterhood Empowerment Academy (SEA) to house its SHE Sisters Healthy & Empowered program, slated to begin July 2014. We are very excited about launching this important health project!
Of course, Sisterhood Agenda will continue to celebrate National Women’s Health Week, even though funding for this initiative is no longer available. Sisterhood Agenda will provide valuable educational materials such as magnets, healthy recipes and healthy guidelines to the public, discuss health issues, and register SHE participants.
Health is holistic: we need clean water, air, and food to nourish our minds, bodies, and souls. Without good health, quality of life is severely diminished. The good news is that many health diseases are preventable with proper education and support.
Starting with pilot programming in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Sisterhood Agenda will expand its programs nationally within the next five years.
As we all strive for happiness, every day can be a healthy and empowered day!
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