The Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy program seeks to position our young teen girls for a future; grounded in scholastic achievement, community leadership and mental wellness. With this goal in mind, the Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. presented the inaugural Leadership Summit: The Possibilities are Endless! Keynote speakers and workshop leaders shared techniques for success in these three areas during a phenomenal Friday welcome reception with parents and teen girls and culminated with a full Saturday agenda.
This program from the Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy Committee, held Friday, May 19, 2023 and Saturday, May 20, 2023, focused on:
- Sharing methods for sustaining mental health, physical health and personal empowerment as a teen girl
- Broadening the girls' STEM and financial wellness education
- Elevating the historical importance of correlating Juneteenth and voting rights
- Introducing the concept of global community through a virtual meet and greet with the I Can Fly International School in Kenya.
Approximately 31 young ladies between the ages of 11 and 14 participated in the weekend events.
On Friday, the teen girls and their parents joined us for an evening welcome reception with our keynote speakers - CJA’s own, Soror Dr. Jennifer Durham, Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the school of Psychology Program, Rutgers University, Ms. Olivia Altidor, the Girl Scouts of New Jersey’s student ambassador and Soror Zenda Walker, Author, DE&I consultant and CEO of Know Your Hairitage, LLC.
The panelists explored self-identity, female empowerment, cultural pride, leadership, and the impact that external pressures can have on teens at this age. Our panelists focused on the necessary tools that parents/guardians can use to help their teen navigate these daily challenges.
Dr. Durham empowered the girls and their parents/guardians to have conversations/open dialogue. She also encouraged the teens to identify a trusted adult to serve as a supportive confidant. She stressed the importance of limiting exposure to social media; which is known to propel negative self-imagery.
Being a teen herself, Olivia shared her intimate experiences with the microaggressions that she has faced in her young life and how the support of her family and deep participation in the Girl Scouts, grounds her in her true “Black Girl Magic”.
Soror Zenda talked about how she not only worked to affirm her daughter’s beauty through her hair, but she elevated the importance of understanding and teaching the cultural significance of our hair journey and celebrating the hair care practices of precolonial Africa through her book - Zara’s Wash Day.
There was a clear intersection of methodologies, as Dr. Durham phrased, to “cultivate black girl magic”.
The young ladies returned on Saturday, to delve deeper into the possibilities for their future through six interactive sessions:
First, a meet and greet with "I Can Fly International in Kenya" (visit https://icanflyinternational.org/ for more information). The Delta Academy teens were able to meet 9th and 10th grade girls at "I Can Fly" and spent time exploring gender equality, education in America as compared to Kenya and creative arts.
Next, the girls got financially savvy through our rendition of "Jeopardy" in a competitive game of “This…Is…Financial…Jeopardy”. Then, they finished the morning by learning some basic self-care yoga routines and were able to put them into practice prior to lunch.
When we returned from lunch, the girls learned all about Juneteenth through an interactive scavenger hunt – searching for key items and symbols that told the story of Juneteenth and then wrapped up by discussing the importance of our vote.
Dominique Young, Owner, and Director of The Coder School of Montgomery, led a deeply engaging coding activity with her team. We were able to pair each young lady with a laptop and host an intimate, hands-on experience due to the generous donation of PTC Therapeutics – gifting the chapter with 6 laptops which were used in the coding session.
As Deltas, service is what we do, and in that same vein we ended the day with the teens sorting and packaging hygiene kits for our Period Poverty Drive.
If you have a young lady that would be interested in participating in the Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy Program during the 2023 – 2024 school year, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.