WINGS – We Inspire Girls to Succeed!!
By Ana Cimino, Albert Schweitzer Follow, Clarina Howard Nichols Center
Through the sponsorship of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship and Clarina Howard Nichols Center, Ana Cimino has spent the year hosting a youth empowerment group that focused on breaking the cycle of gender-based violence. The kids who participate in the group entitled it WINGS – We Inspire Girls to Succeed.
Working with the Clarina Howard Nichols Center, a Vermont agency that serves survivors of domestic violence and their children, Cimino has implemented a program that fosters an empowering and safe environment for kids to heal and grow. The program delivers its curriculum through various modalities, including art, dance, and writing. This program is not a support group, but rather an advocacy program empowering local youth to find their own space to heal, and to open the dialogue on healthy relationships and body image.
Cimino divided the year into two focus areas: defining and developing healthy relationships and building healthy body image with her group. For example, this spring they focused on healthy body image with an art project first then held two yoga/dance classes. The purpose was to celebrate who we are and dismantle society’s expectations of how young women and girls are supposed to look and move.
Domestic and sexual violence against women―particularly among youth and young adults―is growing at an alarming rate, says Cimino, creating a global health issue. “As a society, we must educate ourselves and our youth―boys and girls―about healthy sexuality and healthy relationships,” she says. “We must empower our youth to respect themselves and each other. Furthermore, we must break down the gender-based social constructs that divide and categorize genders, which only maintain the patriarchy and perpetuate gender-based violence.”
Therefore, Cimino plans to stay involved with the program beyond her Fellowship year and would like to expand the program content and numbers of kids involved. Ultimately, Cimino, after conversations with Diivas co-organizer, Saudia Lamont, they would like to join their programs and share the curriculum throughout the state, so that there is another place for kids in Vermont who have experienced bullying, violence, or witnessed violence to come together, to be empowered, and to heal.