Why Representation is Key for Confidence Building

Summer is rapidly flying by and we can hardly believe it’s August! Last week, we hosted Black Girls/NB Bike Camp for the second year, in partnership with Bikeworks. Youth rode around the city, learned bike safety skills, made new friends, and most importantly did it in a space that felt safe and joyful due to shared identities. Safety and belonging have always been core parts of Y-WE programs. 

Also last week, our summer interns at Marra Farm shared their first batch of produce at the local market! Every Tuesday afternoon they are sharing what they’ve grown with the community at the El Mercado farmer’s market. One of this year’s interns is Shaniah Andal (she/her), who came to Y-WE as an eighth grader last summer in Y-WE Create.

When looking back on her first Y-WE summer camp, Shaniah describes, “it’s basically like a sisterhood camp where people from all around Seattle come in and express their feelings, sort of a bond you can’t really get anywhere else. The vibes are just so friendly. And everyone’s so happy to be there that you always want to come back for the next program.” One of Shaniah’s favorite things about Y-WE is that everyone wants to be there, and there are safe adult mentors. “I look up to a lot of people in Y-WE that I learned a lot from. And I’m just more comfortable there because there’s people that look like me and they’re born the same gender as me. I’m an only child and Y-WE provided me with the closest people I could ever call my sisters.”

Through Y-WE Create and Grow Shaniah has developed new passions, like drawing and gardening. At home she is currently growing garlic, peonies, tomatoes, basil, onions, and calendula! Shaniah shared that before she came to Y-WE, she was a “very timid eighth grader.” She said, “because of Y-WE I started branching out and becoming a more friendly, outgoing, and confident person. I’ve been able to get a new perspective from people older than me, people that went through different things than me, and it just made me become a better, more empathetic person.”

We are so excited to see Shaniah step into her leadership during the internship this summer. Her story shows how safe spaces that reflect the identities of young participants allow them to break out of their shell and build community. Shaniah said, Y-WE is “the perfect escape for anyone to join and be able to let go of whatever burden they have. Because everyone there is so welcoming. And every memory is always a good one.”

Young Women Empowered (Y-WE) cultivates the power of diverse young women* to be creative leaders and courageous changemakers, through transformative programs within a collaborative community of belonging. Join our community by making a donation to support our work with youth today. 

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*those who identify as women, girls, trans, non-binary, or gender expansive