Wingale Teferi on Belonging, Becoming Free, & Y-WE

Our Purpose is a six-week storytelling and fundraising campaign with the goal of connecting to the core of Y-WE’s transformative work with youth. To help advance our collective vision and reach our fundraising goal of $150,000 to power our programs, make your gift today!

Wingale Teferi (she/her) discovered Y-WE though our BIPOC Horse & Survival Camp and is now enrolled in our Nature Connections and Create programs. Reflecting on a liberated future, Wingale says that an essential “to become free is opportunity to see that freedom.” 

“With this program, I’ve gotten so many opportunities that I didn’t get before. I would have never imagined having a passion for horseback riding or for hiking, or how creative I am, and having the opportunity to explore these fields if it wasn’t for programs like this, or opportunities like these… There’s just an openness to do anything and experience new things. And Y-WE, outside of that also, just gives so much support… There’s always some sort of support that’s going to be there that’s like, ‘Hey, you got this, keep going, keep exploring. Keep growing.’”

Wingale (left) with other youth participants at BIPOC Horse Camp in summer 2023

Y-WE’s community of belonging creates the conditions for our youth to show up in the fullness of who they are, take creative risks, and try new things. In Y-WE, radical welcome is a commitment and necessity because we know how unwelcome the youth we serve are in other aspects of their lives. 

“I think belonging definitely comes at a cost, especially when you’re a young adult. I can name probably 100 times in high school or middle school, where to feel a sense of belonging, I’ve sacrificed parts of myself that I thought were important to my identity… I feel like me especially – being a Black immigrant woman ­– in order to fit in you have to look a certain way and act a certain way and talk about certain things, and you can’t diverge from that path if you want to be successful,” says Wingale.

“Every time I go to a Y-WE meeting, for whatever program I’m in, it’s an escape. It’s like a safe space, where I can say, ‘hey, I really need help with this,’ – whether it be in the program or at home… I feel like with all the opportunities [Y-WE] has, and the way that they address so many issues and support so many different groups of people, is just so amazing.”

Empowered young women and gender expansive youth exercise their confidence, authenticity, and freedom. We believe in the possibility of a liberated future because we see it in the hearts and minds of young women like Wingale. 

“I don’t think it’s possible for change, good change, or liberation or anything like that to come without first addressing the history that has passed and then working to change that with the people that are affected and giving them the opportunities,” says Wingale. “And love and care and sometimes even room they need to just grow.”

Your gift today to Our Purpose campaign will expand opportunities for Seattle’s youth to explore, learn, grow, and thrive. Please give now and help us raise $150,000 by the end of the year!

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