|The Strawberry Girls & Ella Flagg Young School Principal Crystal Bell, with all the student participants in the Cricket Community Voices Project. (Photo by Brad)|
The Strawberry Girls are beautiful, strong-willed, and dedicated to eradicating all forms of violence and to saving the world. A big order? Not for these Super Women!
Thanks to a Cricket Community Voices Grant, the Strawberry Girls are able to reward students at Ella Flagg Young School with gift cards, journals, and laptop computers as prizes for an essay contest they launched entitled: Letters to the President – How can I be an example of positive leadership in my community?
The Strawberry Girls are a youth organization that exists to prevent bullying, as well as verbal and physical violence in schools. They have worked in the Austin community and are excited about this project because they focused on how children in minority communities are portrayed in the media. They told the student participants, “We are not animals and we are not bad news. We are Change!” They want to shine a light on children who are striving to do well and believe in change.
President Obama is recognized as one of the inspirational leaders for change, so the students wrote to him about their dreams and concerns. The Strawberry Girls were extremely impressed with the honesty and strength of the students as expressed in their letters.
Nikita Adams is President of the Strawberry Girls. Her daughters, Nakia and Nadia Adams are the founders. Nikita expresses that her daughters give her the courage to continue to fight against verbal and physical violence.
Barbara Foster was Assistant Director of the Strawberry Girls, but she has now taken on the volunteer leadership role of Ambassador of Youth Affairs. She says she works with youth because she is obligated to do so. “If I don’t do my part, who will?”
Both Nikita and Barbara have dealt with extreme bullying in grammar school. Nikita says, “This is very important to me. Dealing with any type of harm or violence is hard. The Strawberry Girls is my way of not feeling the shame of having to run home. Helping children is using my voice to speak up to everyone who called me a black, ugly, bald-headed dog. There have been times that I have felt so low that I could not get out of my bed.” She says bullying is an ongoing form of abuse.
“Students who bullied me did it year after year. Many of my classmates called me the same names over and over again, every school year. My mind was programmed to think that I was nothing. I think that being bullied may be a partial reason for why I depended on drugs and I know that it contributed to why I thought of suicide.” Nikita says, “There have been many days and weeks that I could not get out of bed because of depression. One way that I fight is by writing. Writing helped me. Therefore, I want other children to know that writing matters!”
|The Strawberry Girls, Nikita Adams and Barbara Foster, with Grand Prize winners of the Letters to the President Project: Amber Eiland and Cortez Ladd; and 2nd Place winner: Taniya Thompson. (Photo by Brad)|
Barbara says, “It has been very hard since the recent passing of my mother and I just want her to know that I still stand for what is good. I’m her legacy and I want her to know that I will never stop trying. I will never give up hope. This is my community voice.” They both thank Cricket for their support of the students’ writing project.
The Strawberry Girls say, “Many of the writers did well, including Dallas Davis, who said, ‘Mr. President, I want to change, but I don’t know how!’”
The Grand Prize winner is Amber Eiland, who addressed profanity in her letter to the President. Amber writes, “I believe that the media has an impact on the way that our youth act toward one another. The lyrics in today’s music just make kids believe that it is okay to offend one another.” Amber also stated that the bitch, main bitch, and hoe words are used casually in her community. “Women don’t realize that it is not okay to be called someone’s main female dog. Women don’t bark, they don’t have owners, and they definitely don’t walk on four legs,” Amber declares.
Taniya Thompson won 2nd Place. In her letter Taniya says, “Male students have called me bitches and hoes. I feel very bad when they call me these things because they don’t know me outside of school and they should not judge me!” Taniya goes on to explain that a guy has told her to suck his private part. “I felt very insulted. I almost cried.”
The singer Monica is Taniya’s role model because she doesn’t make everything negative. Many of the students named Alicia Keys as a positive role model as well. Many of the students did not claim perfection and admitted they need to change certain aspects of their lives. The most beautiful thing is that they believe it is possible.
Thirty students received McDonald’s gift cards, nine received McDonald’s gift cards and journals. The Grand Prize winners received an Acer Wide Screen Laptop (1st Prize – Amber Eiland), an Acer Notebook (1st Place – Cortez Ladd), $75 gift card (2nd Prize – Taniya Thompson), $50 gift card (3rd Place – Justice Johnson), and $25 Foot Locker gift cards (Special Rewards – Dallas Davis & Princess Carter).
The Strawberry Girls extend thanks to Ella Flagg Young School Principal Crystal Bell and Ms Chandler. They also thank their fiscal agent Goodcity for making this project come to life.
Students who would like the Strawberry Girls to send their letters to President Obama or others who have questions or comments about the Strawberry Girls, e-mail to Adams_nikita@yahoo.com.
NOTE: Some of the language in this article is offensive. However, the Strawberry Girls feel that it is important that it be included as the students expressed themselves in the spirit of keeping it real. For that reason, we respect their wishes and publish the students’ statements as they wrote them. –Editor