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One Billion Rising: V-Day 2013 at Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School

Updated on July 2, 2014
"Just Between Us" Co-Leaders Guidance Counselor Laura Shectman & 9th Grade Teacher Ambar Hernandez
"Just Between Us" Co-Leaders Guidance Counselor Laura Shectman & 9th Grade Teacher Ambar Hernandez | Source

MELS' Girls Group Rise!

V-Day, February 14, 2013 was my best to date; purpose-filled, powerful and passionate, enjoyed at MELS’ Girls Group Rise event! In support of “One Billion Rising,” V-Day's 15th Anniversary campaign, we watched videos, had a discussion and learned the choreography to the anthem song, “Break The Chain.”

I had originally registered for the 4 p.m. “One Billion Rising” event in Prospect Park, but circumstances arose that caused me to search for an indoor event the night before. Ironically and also at the last minute, 9th grade teacher Ambar Hernandez had decided to host an event with the girls in her afterschool program “Just Between Us (JBU),” held on Mondays and Thursdays at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School (MELS). When I saw the listing, my spirit sighed sweetly. I knew that was the perfect place, divinely orchestrated, and in alignment with my purpose. I gratefully registered for the event online and excitedly showed up the next day.

The girls are amazing! They were all smiles, sweet-spirited and friendly. They warmly welcomed me into their space even though they had no idea who I was or what the day's activities would entail. Invited into their opening circle, one of the girls volunteered to tell me about their group- a place to discuss their feelings, things that they are dealing with and issues that affect women and girls. We sat down to watch one of Eve Ensler’s video messages about the One Billion Rising campaign call to globally mobilize women to end to violence against women and young girls. After the video, Ms. Hernandez opened the floor for discussion, and then we watched the "Break The Chain" dance video. Before watching and learning the Break The Chain” choreography video, I was given the opportunity to share my poem, “ONE BILLION RISING: It’s Time to Strike, Dance, Rise!

There was plenty of laughter and fun learning the "Break The Chain" dance, and an added wave of genuine excitement when JBU co-leader and Guidance Counselor Laura Shectman joined the festivities. The group rising ended in a circle of gratitude with each member choosing a person in the circle to state what they appreciated about her.

“Just Between Us” is a new afterschool program at MELS to empower and strengthen young girls. Co-Leaders Hernandez and Schectman strive to provide a safe creative space for the group to build their identity, discuss female issues, learn about health and incorporate movement to develop mental and physical strength. They have succeeded in creating a beautifully bonded group of girls, who are learning to show love and appreciation for themselves and each other.

One young lady appreciated me for coming and another said that I inspired her. V-Day 2013 was by far the most meaningful and heartfelt Valentine’s Day I have ever experienced.

Be blessed, One love

Jo Anne Meekins

Inspired4U Blog


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    • Inspired 4 U profile image

      Jo Anne Meekins 4 years ago from Queens, NY

      Amen. Thank you for the Angel blessing. Yes, teaching at a young age is vital in healthy balanced development. The program is a wonderful idea, much needed & well received. We need more of them for our children. God bless you & thanks for your comment.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      The program at the school with the girls is awesome. Starting young to let girls know they do not need to allow abuse to happen...that it is not so important. So many abused girls came through school while was teaching and I reported it and prayed something could would come of it. Programs like this are a beginning..thank you for sharing this voted up Sending you many Angels and Angels to all of those who fight against the violence each day. :) ps