YWE’s My Sister’s Keeper Set for July 13
By Dianne Anderson
High school these days can be an unstable mix of family or social drama for the young sisterhood, who try their best not to appear too uncool as they ready to enter the dating scene.
Tiffany James sees just how far young ladies are willing go to achieve that picture perfect Generation Z look embodied in Facebook and Instagram.
Social media has become the aesthetic measurement of success, but she said the Young Women’s Empowerment Foundation (YWE) wants girls to understand that what they see on online can be deceiving.
This year, YWE wants to shed light on the negative influence social media, and put virtual glamour in perspective.
On the one hand, young women are getting stronger. On the other, it’s complicated. There is a contradictory kind of peer pressure.
“We have the #MeToo movement, women’s empowerment, but at the same time you have social media and the societal facade of being beautiful, by any means necessary,” said James, YWE vice-president.
Girls are different today than her day, she said. Sexuality is faster, and promiscuity is more in vogue. Not only is it more widely accepted on screen and off screen, but it’s also starting earlier.
Even young students are celebrating bisexuality, which is the new normal, but that usually means double-time dating around.
“The young girls accept that he dated a guy two months ago, and now he’s dating you, and you’re okay with that,” she said. “Nowadays, sex is not taboo. Our middle schoolers are engaging at a very young age.”
More sexual activity means more sexually transmitted diseases for teens that are not yet physically or emotionally ready.
She said the goal of the event is to spark real discussions. Last time around, they included middle schoolers, but this event is open exclusively to young ladies either entering or already in high school.
YWE is prepared to answer the harder questions.
“To get down to the nitty gritty, you have to have open and blatant conversations,” James said. “If we can continue to suppress their questions, or not answer, they’ll go somewhere else and they’re not going to get the right information.”
On Saturday, July 13, the event will be held at San Bernardino Valley College from 10:00 a.m. To 1:00 p.m. The college will provide a free lunch.
The event also targets high schoolers for a college application workshop. For those that may not wish to attend, YWE will provide a workshop on interviewing skills. Parents are also invited to attend a workshop to help prepare their students for college, and apply for scholarships.
But, she said parents are not allowed to attend inside the actual YWE event. Students must have the freedom to open up and express themselves without their parents listening in.
“It gives our parents the opportunity to be learning at the same time, but not be in the same room because that can be frightful for a young person. We have them separated,” she said.
Over the years, Valley College has been supportive of YWE programming, and eventually, YWE hopes to expand efforts to get the girls from middle to high school, and matriculated into college.
She said even if they could only turn one young life around, it would be worth it, but she feels their annual event provides the best way to reach many girls at once.
“They are responding,” she said. “We’ve had breakthrough conversations in the past, some girls have cried and acknowledged that they were human trafficked before.”
There are some serious things to talk about. Conversations will cover how to spot a sister that has been victimized by sexual assault or domestic violence. A therapist on staff will be available for crisis intervention in case any of the girls are triggered.
“It’s an educational forum and open talk. It’s really trying to build that sisterhood, it may not be your blood sister, but she’s a young woman, we really have to look out for each other,” she said.