May 12, 2017

Global Girls are on the MOVE

healthy eating workshop
healthy eating workshop

Global Girls is on the MOVE helping girls right here in Chicago so that they can continue helping girls in other countries. In honor of Earth Day, April 22, we hosted a healthy lifestyle campaign designed to inspire girls to become nutrition conscious consumers and to move more. The group who called themselves, The Nutritionists, learned about healthy eating, reading food labels and counting calories so that they could teach it to other youth in a series of community workshops. The campaigned culminated with a nutritious lunch at the Global Studio for family and community members.

We believe that hunger and malnutrition go hand in hand. Because most of our schools receive free lunches, youth have the option of eating somewhat nutritious meals at least while they are in school. However, there are forces at work that that influence their food choices. In 2015, the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity examined how companies advertise sugar-laden soda, high-fat snacks and massive-calorie restaurant fare to people of color and how those foods are impacting youth obesity rates. Researchers found that a total of 48 brands were advertising directly to children and teens, and they were all significantly more likely to target those ads at Latino and black kids. The result is that young blacks see 70 percent more food-related advertising than their white counterparts, and twice as many television ads for candy, and sugar snacks and drinks. In contrast, the report found, those same companies were significantly less likely to target black and Hispanic consumers with their TV advertising for healthier food categories such as yogurt and other dairy products, 100 percent juice, water, and fruits and vegetables. “The Nutritionists” served as a counter balance to the big advertisers and chipped away at their destructive propaganda. 

As a 17 year old youth performing arts organization with a strong following and reputation for creatively addressing youth issues, Global Girls believes that this initiative can become an ongoing program that lasts for many years. We’ve taken on litter in the community and led campaigns to clean streets and parks. We trained other youth, and they’ve maintained the effort with annual events each summer. “The Nutritionists” is a natural, youth-led outgrowth. Candy wrappers, chip bags and fast food containers make up most of the litter in our community. Some of our youth eat junk for breakfast and lunch and then have fast food for dinner. Our videos can be used by teachers, parents, other leaders to show youth the difference between the body digesting fruits and veggies and the way it digests candy and chips. Those videos can be shown over a long period of time. Also, they can be shared on social media by hundreds of youth. We could even take the project to other communities. The community brunches can be quarterly events. We certainly want to continue the project beyond the funding period because we want our friends and families to become healthier.

workshop opening group
workshop opening group
youth getting healthy lunch
youth getting healthy lunch
listening group
listening group
Feb 6, 2017

Seventeen years of impacting and empowering girls

Global Girls outside the Global Studio
Global Girls outside the Global Studio

Global Girls continues to impact hundreds of girls each year and have now expanded programming to impact boys. Our latest initiative, Our Home is NOT in a Warzone” will reframe the stories young people on the south side of Chicago tell themselves as well as reinterpret the stories they hear from beyond the community.  17 years ago, we began this journey with the same commitment - telling our own stories. Way back in 2000, I never imagined we’d be confronting the same issues. However, our tactics are winning with larger and larger groups of youth.  We now have a team that has traveled abroad to five different countries, empowered thousands of girls with performance and presentation skills and staged over 30 original stories reflecting African American teen life. Today, many of those youth are either in college or in the work world as productive members of society. All of them credit their time in Global Girls as part of their solid foundation.

One of the core initiatives is Global Girls Theatre Collaborative (GTC). In “safe space” settings, teams of youth and adults create and stage original theatre that unpacks, challenges and heals. Youth who’ve mastered dance, acting and story crafting perform their shows for audiences at The Global Studio and in various venues around Chicago and throughout state of Illinois. Springing from first person narratives, their shows confront issues of racial injustice, HIV/STI education, domestic and dating violence, adultism, teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, social media, street harassment and more with content that some find provocative, but youth believe captures their realities.

Prior to starting Global Girls, Marvinetta Penn, ED, worked 19 years for Chicago Public Schools as an English and Theatre instructor. Combining over 35 years working with African American youth and amassing mounds of knowledge and best practices, she is now expanding Global Girls programs in partnership with schools and other organizations. In addition to Global Girls groups in Mombasa, Grenada and India, we now have groups in East St. Louis and Charleston, Illinois and are planning to start groups in Durham, North Carolina, Jamaica, West Indies and Toronto, Canada.

Here’s a snapshot of our 2016 activities and events:

  • Nine south side of Chicago girls traveled to Grenada and worked with 30 girls on our second John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation arts exchange grant.
  • Four youth and five adults traveled with us to Mombasa, Kenya to work with our 26 Global Girls in community schools in partnership with Mombasa Relief Initiative.
  • Seven of our young actresses will appear in a soon to be released independent film about the aftermath of gun violence in Chicago.
  • 83 girls ages 4 to 14 participated in our Youth Performance Camp this summer.
  • 56 teens including 18 males acted and danced in our Take the Stage, After School Matters program.
  • Youth sang, danced and acted in skits in our most successful Summer Performance Showcase this summer at the beautiful Grand Ballroom. Over 300 parents and friends came out to see them.
  • Over 900 youth participated in our school and community based programs and events.
  • Thanks to our partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, we served 6,500 hot meals in our after school and Saturday programs.
  • Our girls and boys performed in 12 community and Global Girls sponsored public events
  • Twelve Global Girls alums have created the Global Girls alumni team.
  • Our girls are winning academic and performance awards, inspiring and advocating for other youth in their schools.

 Ava Saunders is a great example of our program’s success. She started in our school based program when she was nine and began our Saturday program shortly thereafter. A dedicated dancer and actress, Ava exceled and joined Global Girls Theatre Collaborative, performing in Kenya and India. Ava received a full scholarship to the Chicago Academy for the Performing Arts (high school) and became the first freshman in the school’s history to appear in a senior production. Now, Ava is a freshman at the University of Minnesota on full scholarship in musical theatre. Global Girls, Inc. is proud to have provided her foundation in dance and theatre.

Your contributions help us help more youth and sincerely appreciated.

Supporters enabled "Hidden Figures" outing
Supporters enabled "Hidden Figures" outing

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Nov 10, 2016

Grenada girls will come to Chicago

Girls on the first day
Girls on the first day

In a few short weeks, 2016 will come to an end. But what an event-filled year 2016 was for Global Girls as you can see in our attached newsletter! One of the highlights was our john D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation funded arts exchange initiative in Grenada, West Indies. Nine of our girls ages 12 to 18 spent 17 days in Grenada, worked with 30 girls (10 from three different schools in the Telescope region) and showcased a final performance for over 200 students, teachers, school staff, government officials, parents and business and community members at the end of our engagement.

We made lots of friends and connections while there and became known as the “Chicago” dancers. Our Chicago travelers still regularly communicate with many of the Grenada on social media.  We are resuming contact with partners on the ground to make certain the Grenada Global Girls will come to Chicago in March 2017! Each school has been fundraising for the trip.  We expect that at least 10 of the 30 girls will make the trip and perform with us in a series of shows in and around Chicago.

One school in particular is continuing a Global Girls performance group. Because the schools we worked with do not have a performing arts curriculum, I am creating a Global Girls guide complete with detailed lessons, activities, sample skits and even a demonstration video that I can share with the schools to help them continue creating our unique brand of socially conscious, youth driven theatre.

Thanks to your support, girls are learning from one another, stepping outside their comfort zones as they learn new possibilities and using their voices to say what's on their minds and in their hearts. 

friendships
friendships
The night of the show
The night of the show

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