Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of The Power of Girls, Inc.
Inside The Power Of Girls: 'We're Building Girls' Confidence Through Travel'
According to The Girls’ Index 2017, young girls’ confidence takes a drastic hit between 5th and 9th grade. It is said that by the time they reach the 9th grade it is at its lowest point, and only declines as they move through high school.
For New York native turned Atlanta resident Tameka Kee, pouring into girls in those middle school years was something she always dreamed of doing.
After being able to travel abroad for the first time in middle school herself, she saw firsthand the power of seeing the world at an early age.
“My middle school Spanish class had the opportunity to travel to Greece and Spain,” Tameka Kee, founder of The Power Of Girls, Inc. told Travel Noire. “Coming from a lower middle class family, I didn’t think it was possible for me to go, but my mom raised the funds for me to travel. That experience really sparked my love and curiosity for travel, while making me feel like I could really take on anything.”
In adulthood, Tameka began working for a well-known agency in the Atlanta Metro area, but something inside of her always took her mind back to her dream of being able to provide that same travel experience for young girls around her communities.
“I just knew something was missing, despite having an really amazing job and career.”
In 2017, she stepped out on faith and launched her non-profit The Power for Girls. She spent years working to bring it all together to ensure she could really bring a quality program to Atlanta’s youth.
The nonprofit has two components: building self-esteem while also exposing the middle school-aged girls to travel.
Before the girls are able to take a trip, they spend time getting to know the other young ladies in the program through local retreats and fun workshops. From experts coming in to walk them through airport safety to workshops on leadership skills and how to choose a great group of friends— the girls are truly prepared to step out beyond their comfort zones.
“Many of these girls have never traveled out of the country, and some even out of the state,” Kee explained. “But I believe that you have to show a girl the world for them to be empowered.”
The first cohort of girls traveled to London for a truly life changing experience. The plan was to go Guatemala this year, but COVID-19 paused those plans. Instead, Kee and her team have pivoted to setting up virtual experiences where the girls are able to interact with other young girls in countries like Haiti and India.
“When it comes to travel, it is best to make an impression as soon as possible. Girls confidence begins to suffer around middle school, so that is where we come in to help them build and keep that confidence before its too late.”
All of the pre-travel retreats and workshops are free to the girls in the organization. For the actual trips, each girl is responsible for 50% of her travel and Kee and her team set up fundraising efforts to help them get there. The organization also recently wrapped up a big fundraising effort to sponsor passports for the latest cohort.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to travel again in 2021,” Kee said. “Until then we are shifting to alternative programming to still expose the girls to different things like hiking.”