Detroit-based motivational speaker and author Rasheda Williams helps girls combat negative peer influences by improving communications skills.
Mean girls are notorious. Why girls are especially prone to unkind interactions with one another – while not entirely a locked-room mystery – is a perplexing maze to navigate, particularly in those transitional years between middle and high school. Rasheda Williams of Empowered Flower Girl hopes to change that perception one person at a time.
When Williams launched Empowered Flower Girl in 2010, it was youth-focused with a mission of helping young people live above bullying in all its forms – cyber and face-to-face. As an ever-evolving concept, the organization expanded to more workshops and community events, alongside parenting programs and programs for adults. The ultimate goal was to reach as many people as possible – even boys.
“When I started Empowered Flower Girl, I was always an advocate for community service,” Williams says. “My grandmother would always volunteer for the Detroit (Belle Isle) Grand Prix, exposing me to the value and benefit of service. Growing up with that service was innate for me. Once I had the opportunity to do more volunteering, especially in college, that led me to wanting to start a business.”
A Wayne State University graduate with a degree in journalism, Williams found that transitioning from the basic art of crafting succinct messages to mentoring and community activism wasn’t much of a stretch, skill-wise. Or, as she puts, becoming, “an advocate for community service.”
She started mentoring for Alternatives For Girls, a nonprofit for at-risk girls, in her senior year of high school as a way to work through some “personal drama” in her life. Williams was immediately drawn to the impact possible when reaching girls and young women on a personal level. Once she had her own organization in place, it was clear how she wanted to proceed: She would help others improve their communication skills, because, really, wasn’t “mean girl culture” a failure to constructively communicate on some level?
“There’s all kinds of drama on social media,” Williams says. “I’ve always wanted to help them express themselves in a way that’s more positive and more productive. I think that’s what gets lost – the art of communication.”
Whereas boys tend to be more physically aggressive, girls, in contrast, tend to employ social exclusion tactics to snub their counterparts, Williams notes.
“As humans, we have this need to be loved and accepted,” she says. “Oftentimes, young people feel there’s not enough to go around. Sometimes they may backstab or leave each other out, or put each other down. That competition is what is really unfortunate – the competition to be the prettiest.”
Empowered Flower Girls offers workshops for youth and adults. It also provides participants effective tools to improve relationships and strategies for managing conflict. Visit empoweredflowergirl.com or call 248-629-0334.