Listen to Ebony Haynes talk about how “Sista Circle” and local female leaders of color are inspiring young Milwaukee girls.
Having a mentor at a young age can be transformative.
Listen to the story below to find out how one program is working to motivate young female leaders right here in Milwaukee.
Ebony Haynes is all about inspiring youth.
“I get to see youth transform their lives,” she said.
She works at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee as a Program Manager of Social and Emotional Learning.
For her, the job came full circle.
“I was a club kid,” she said. For her it’s about “having people that care, that pour into you, that make sure you have opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise have.”
She said, sure, the Boys and Girls clubs are well known for their after school programs. But there’s much more to the picture.
“I think a lot of time people look it at as recreation and academics and those are definitely very important pieces,” she said. “But, then we also want to make sure that we top it off with that social-emotional learning. How do we teach someone how to love themselves?”
How do we teach someone to love themselves?
One of the groups she leads is called G.I.R.L.S. It stands for: Growing Inspirational and Responsible Leaders. As the name suggests, it is geared toward young women from middle school to high school. And a few times a year, Haynes plans outings for the girls to meet adult professionals.
“The goal is really to connect women of color in the community to girls in our programming, who may need to see women who look like them doing amazing things in the community,” she said. “There’s just something for a young girl to see someone that is a lawyer that looks like them, and for her to feel like ‘I can do that, too.'”
The adult group is called Sista Circle. For the youth, Haynes said, having that support is invaluable, and it doesn’t take much time, either.
“In our careers we get very busy,” she said. “But sometimes, just a 10-minute conversation with the youth telling them they can do something, because you made it and you did it, is all that it takes to really push them.”
“So that’s why it’s important, I think in whatever you do, just find someone to look back on and to give back to.”