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Unity Awards. Celebrating those creating a world without bullying.

— 2023 Unity Award Recipient —

M.E.A.N. Girls Empowerment

South Holland, IL

M.E.A.N.—Manage Emotions, Avoid Negativity—Girls Empowerment's (MGE) is an organization whose mission is to empower girls from 8 to 18 to avoid negativity, build self-confidence, and pursue their goals. Their initiative is to increase self-love while addressing bullying with education and mentorship. The organization serves the Chicagoland area (South Holland, IL), and targets girls in high-risk communities on Chicago’s south side and in the surrounding suburbs. A safe, supportive space is provided for girls who are dealing with bullying, aggression, harassment, violence, abuse, and related issues while empowering them to be advocates for change in their community. 98% of participants in MGE report an increase in self-esteem with more positive attitudes towards school and social relationships. The organization has committed over 3000 service hours in mentoring to over 150 girls via our programming and community outreach. Since its inception in 2014, MGE has worked with over 1500 girls in addition to retaining over 100 volunteers. Participants have attested that involvement in MGE has attributed to their college success because they gain the ability to process and manage emotions with confidence and a better understanding of life skills while they transition from adolescence to adulthood. In addition to the service provided to the program participants, the organization hosts quarterly parent workshops that focus on educating the adults in the household and the community.

This program is an asset to each community it serves due to the resources it gives and the incessant focus on the care of each participant as it relates to their health and education. Nominated by Brittny Denton

Promoting Change

Why are you personally passionate about addressing bullying and promoting inclusion?

As a former victim of bullying during my adolescent years, I have first-hand knowledge on the detriment and toll this form of violence takes on the psyche of youth and the damage it does to self-esteem and character building. It is of extreme importance that adults learn the root causes of bullying and what behaviors/signs are exhibited so that they know what to look for allowing them to be effective advocates for bullying victims; with this also comes the prevention of negative outcomes as a direct response to bullying, especially in schools. As a mentor and a mom, it pains me to see the hurt on a child's face that does not feel accepted. The hurt that fills me as I speak to children who feel they are unable to be themselves or accepted by their peers drives me to go harder in forcing them to see the amazing beings they are, and how needed they are in the world. It is imperative that I teach youth how to find happiness and peace within themselves. I teach our girls to be change agents, the lesson starts in me being that for them.
Shatina Edwards, Founder of M.E.A.N. Girls Empowerment Bullying Prevention Program

Why is it important to create a world without bullying?

It is important that youth feel empowered. All humans, not just youth, perform at their best when they feel like they belong. Feeling heard and like a safe space has been provided allows our youth to express themselves authentically and create organic bonds amongst their peers and within their community. Human interactions are a part of daily life, feeling included and valued/supported is necessary to living productive lives with the stronger possibility of them being change agents to inspire, support and connect with another person that may be struggling with their own inclusive dilemmas. So many youths have turned to suicide and/or had their lives cut short as a result of bullying violence; bullying prevention can save lives. Teaching our youth how to be kind, how to practice mindfulness thinking, and how to be accepting of people's differences, instills the truth that we have a responsibility to respect and protect each other. Creating a world without bullying is a sure way to bring people together to achieve shared goals, pool resources, and succeed together.