NEW YORK—Many young girls in New York overcome significant challenges to grow up and become leaders. For 10 years, the Sadie Nash Leadership Project has provided the inspiring environment these girls need to become the best they can be.
Sade Swift, 17, is currently in her second Ready S.E.T. Go program with the Sadie Nash Leadership Project and says she has gained immensely. “It helped me grow as a person, not only in my leadership style, but also realizing that what I stand up for is true and it’s real, I’m the change that I need to see in the world, and I need to go out there and do something about it,” said Swift, with an air of confidence.
Swift, who is a senior at Beacon High School in Washington Heights, aspires to become a journalist with the drive to report the truth. She is concerned about the potential challenges for her younger brother, now four, and feels the Sadie Nash has empowered her to be a good role model for him.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Tuesday joined five aspiring schoolgirls in a panel discussion at the 10th anniversary of the Sadie Nash Project. Quinn said her home life was completely supportive: “It was a fact, that we were going to be successful in whatever we wanted to do and we were just going to excel, there was never even a question.” Years later, she ran for speaker. “I wasn’t supposed to win and people would go out of their way to tell me I wasn’t going to win. … I decided not to listen!” A detailed plan and sheer determination saw her and her team through to success.
But not everyone had such a supportive home life, 56 percent of the girls who attend Sadie Nash come from families who have an annual income of less than $25,000, according to Sadie Nash records. The girls on the panel face a range of issues, including poverty, peer pressure, drug use, and gun violence. Sadie Nash aims to provide a positive character-building environment for those who may not have it otherwise.
Kamilah Badiane, 17, lives in the Bronx. She is now in her second consecutive Ready S.E.T. Go program offered by the Summer Institute.
“I came here and saw all these amazing ideas and all these amazing women be actually united. That gave me the drive to be a leader, I feel like this program is a good influence for any female, you learn so much and get so much information to take out to the world,” said Badiane.
In order to become an effective leader, Badiane said she has had to overcome stereotypes: “As a low-income, black female, you have people keeping you down all the time, but in reality you have to push forward.”
The Sadie Nash leadership program aims to “strengthen, empower, and equip young women with leadership qualities,” according to the website. A variety of programs are offered ranging from the six-week program offered by the Summer Institute, through to the two-year Leadership Program.“We have activities such as intentional community building through classroom discussions with college women, we do a lot of role modeling,” said Cecilia Clarke, the founder of Sadie Nash. The programs offer a diversity of activities across the courses including guest speakers, field trips, and group projects with exposure to local leaders and relevant social justice campaigns.
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