This week we are highlighting Fatema, a Y-WE alum and now co-facilitator who is in her first year of college at the University of Washington. Check out her story below!
When reflecting on her experiences in Y-WE programs Fatema recalls her sense of skepticism. “In the beginning it sounded too good to be true. Like I’m going to hang out by the water and learn with other young women for free? Really after looking at the website I was curious to see if it’s as good as it sounds.” Fatema ultimately continued to do programming because she really needed an environment that offered “a safe space for teens to just exist… that’s the part I didn’t believe in at first. I don’t think I can even compare my high school experience to being at Y-WE because I wouldn’t even know where to begin. At school I felt like I always had to be guarded all the time but at Y-WE it was like I could just put my guard down and be myself.”
Fatema fondly recalls a memory from the end of Write Camp 2021 in which youth participants used traces of their body to create and decorate life sized self portraits that other participants, mentors, and staff were then invited to write affirmations and reflections around. “To me that experience of others writing comments around my body figure was so special because the comments they left were so positive and encouraging. I have the poster on my bedroom wall at home and I still carry that experience with me to this day. When I’m feeling down I look at it and it’s like ‘oh this person thinks I’m cool, so maybe I should stop crying.’ Being able to put my guard down at Y-WE has helped me to build more authentic relationships in my life. Knowing there are people I can go to who care about me is pretty life changing.”
Y-WE continues to advocate for and co-create spaces in which youth are empowered to show up fully as themselves. Integral to these processes are ongoing intergenerational relationships of care in which youth are invited to both trust and show themselves trustworthy within the container affirming community. Make a donation today to partner with us in continuing this important work.