In Tallahassee, approximately 68% of girls experience verbal bullying, 33% of girls experience cyberbullying, and 30% of girls experience physical bullying, according to the Leon County Department of Health 2020 annual report.
In order to remediate the psychological effects that external violence may inflict on young girls mentally, physically and emotionally, Janay White’s Girls2Divas extends a listening ear, one that many may be missing in their lives.
White, a Florida A&M alumna, full-time social work professor and Girls2Divas CEO, shared her inspiration behind the mentoring program, one that hits close to home.
“Our girls are very vulnerable, and they need direction, they need support,” White said. “I was one of those girls who didn’t have a mentor … if only I had someone I could speak to that was kind of unbiased outside of my home, that would meet with me every now and then, I would have had more support during that time.”
White says that acknowledging the trials of your own life and using them to help the next generation of young girls is something the program looks to give back to their growing community, one in desperate need.
Founded in 2011, the local, non-profit organization has aimed to create sustainable and enriching relationships with young girls ranging from 3rd to 12th grade through “one-on-one mentoring, monthly enrichment workshops, community service projects, educational field trips, shadowHER opportunities (job shadowing) social events, summer camp, weekly mental health girl talks, parent engagement meetings and a book club,” according to the Girls2Divas website.
Inspired by the encouragement from her FAMU professors and her experience volunteering with Girl Power, the young entrepreneur built a blueprint during her undergrad, looking to mimic and provide that same empowering experience to other girls whose stories may align with her own.
Giving the community what she needed in her growing age is the heart behind the Girls2Divas program.
“The impact that we’re making with these girls,” said White is the greatest reward the program gives back to her.
Seeing all the work come to fruition in the young girls’ lives, whether it be them opening up to their mentors or girls getting jobs because of the skills they learned in workshops, is what keeps White going, but with great reward comes great sacrifice.
“Balancing it all, I think that’s a daily challenge,” White said.
Running a program of this magnitude and depth can become hard to balance all at once, especially while continuing to look for ways to help the rest of those in need.
White is looking to move the Girls2Divas outside of the public space into its own building, obtain her license as a clinical social worker and just handle life in general. She is looking for commitment and consistency outside of herself to help expand the program to its full potential.
“In every capacity someone can use a social worker, but it’s also transferable depending on the discipline,” White said.
You don’t have to be a social worker to help people, White says. Everyone has a gift or a niche that they can use to help someone else, whether they volunteer or intern with the program. It’s consistency and commitment that really bring the change you want to see in your local community, one that can affect generations to come.