Lizzloves's Blog

Spreading love and sisterhood…

LizzLoves Project MC2 April 19, 2016

Filed under: education,girls,science,STEM,tech,TV,video,youth — lizzloves @ 1:03 am
Tags: , , , , ,

mc2

I’m a big kid at heart. No, really. I am not ashamed to say that I still love cartoons (anyone want to see Zootopia with me?), a few “teeny bopper” shows, and I wholeheartedly fall in love with lots of YA novels on a regular basis.

So many of you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I checked out a Netflix tween/teen series that I’d read about recently. The series, called Project MC2, focuses on a smart and sassy group of high school girls who use their science skills to become a team of spies working to uncover a plot against a teen heartthrob. From gadgetry and chemical concoctions, to coding and tech, these girls have the STEM spectrum completely covered.  While these young ladies take their sciences very seriously, there is still plenty of room for silliness and sisterhood. I love that this diverse crew of chicas forge a friendship by showing off their “smarts” and by being their complete selves.

 

LizzLoves Girl Rising October 15, 2013

Girl Rising t-shirt

I used to have a t-shirt collection. I had ones about music, Latino culture, and ones with random cool graphics or witty sayings. But, eventually, I realized that my drawers (and my budget) wouldn’t support the plethora of t-shirts that I had accumulated. So now, I try to resist buying too many shirts that I know I can only wear casually.

Today, though, I knew I had to make an exception. Girl Rising posted a picture on Facebook of actress Freida Pinto rocking this awesome t-shirt (pictured above). The message immediately spoke to me, so with a few quick clicks, I bought one on their online store. As a bonus for buying this stylish tee, part of the proceeds go to Girl Rising’s 10×10 Fund for Girls’ Education.

If Girl Rising is new to you, this organization believes that if you educate a girl, you can change the world. It defines itself as a:

“…grassroots global action campaign for girls’ education, powered by girls, women, boys and men around the world who stand for equality…Girl Rising partners with established nonprofit organizations that drive donations to programs that help girls get in school and stay in school.”

One of the most buzzed-about ways that they spread their message is through their film by the same name, “Girl Rising,” which makes their movement even more personal by telling the stories of nine girls from across the globe.  Check out the trailer here.

Unfortunately, I missed out on a chance to see this film in NYC last week. But, if anyone is interested, perhaps we can join forces and organize a screening of the film in the near future! In the meantime, I’m going to be proud and happy to spread the message of Girl Rising by wearing my t-shirt as often as possible!

girlrising

 

LizzLoves Sarah Kay’s TED Talk July 19, 2013

Sarah Kay TED 2011

Sarah Kay at TED 2011

TGIF! It’s blazing hot here in New Jersey, so I’m cooling off with an inspirational TED Talk that features spoken word poet Sarah Kay performing her poem “If I Should Have a Daughter.” I’m going to let the video speak for itself, but going in you should know how awesome Sarah is: not only is she a talented wordsmith who has been speaking her mind through poetry since she was 14, but she is also the founder of Project V.O.I.C.E (Vocal Outreach Into Creative Expression), an organization that uses spoken word to educate, inspire and entertain.

 

I think that moms with daughters will especially enjoy this talk. Sarah shares a poem about inspiring young girls to face the world with courage, love and wonder, all while knowing their mothers are behind them the whole way. She also talks about her beginnings with poetry and how she’s passing it on to young, budding—and sometimes skeptical—writers.

 

If you’re having a slow summer Friday at work, I recommend you watch the whole video. If you only have a stolen moment, then just watch her perform one of her poems for the first 3:37 minutes of the video.

 

To learn more about Sarah and where you can see her perform next, check out her website here.

 

LizzLoves Latino Reading for Youth December 10, 2012

Filed under: books,business,culture,parenting,youth — lizzloves @ 5:24 am

maswired.com

A week ago, an article was released in The New York Times that hit home for me. The piece confirmed the sinking feeling I had been having when I looked at the current literary landscape: Latino students are not seeing enough leading characters in the books they read that look, sound and act like them.

 

Despite the ever-growing Latino population in our country, we are still seeing a majority of white characters in main character roles in books that our young people are reading. Some might say, so what—reading is reading, right? Others might argue, why should it matter if characters are Latino or multi-ethnic?

 

Jane Fleming, an assistant professor at the Erikson Institute, a graduate school in early childhood development in Chicago, told The New York Times, “Kids do have a different kind of connection when they see a character that looks like them or they experience a plot or a theme that relates to something they’ve experienced in their lives.” And that connection leads to an engaging learning experience.

 

And while this article does address the derth in Latino characters, it also highlights a few authors who are dedicated to giving Latino characters leading roles in their writing, like Pat Muñoz Ryan, Julia Alvarez, Gary Soto, and Alma Flor Ada. And I would personally like to add two others, Malín Alegria and Sofia Quintero, who both create relatable and real teenage Latino characters in their young adult novels.

 

The Times article also points out the importance of creating characters and stories about Latinos in everyday life, not just around holidays like Cinco de Mayo. “It should be as natural reading about these characters as white characters,” Julia Alvarez told the Times.

 

I’m personally very thankful to authors who are already making efforts to organically weave Latinos into their tomes. I smile when I can picture myself, and someday, my children in their stories. I will do my best to support them, and I hope you will, too. And for those of you who are thinking about writing the “great American novel,” remember that Latinos are an important thread in the fabric of our nation’s culture.

 

So this holiday, give the gift of reading to the young people in your life and support Latino authors, who are featuring young Latinos in their works, at the same time. A quick tip for an easy and fun way to find some of them: visit Latino bookstore, La Casa Azul in El Barrio, where you can find an amazing collection of Latino literature, from the classics to up-and-coming voices. Owner Aurora Anaya-Cerda joyfully brings her passion for Latino literature to NYC’s most famous Latino neighborhood.

 

 

LizzLoves Healthy Body Images for Girls April 30, 2012

Filed under: health,women,youth — lizzloves @ 1:07 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Photo courtesy of Dove

Recently, I signed a Change.org petition that asks Seventeen magazine to make a new effort to portray realistic images of young women.

 

If you know anything about Change.org, then you know that this online platform places the power of social change in the hands of anyone who is passionate about an issue. The site transforms users into activists by allowing them to combine e-petitions with social media to spread the word.

 

Julia Bluhm, a 13-year-old, wants to spread the word about how Seventeen‘s current portrayal of young women makes her and her friends feel. When I got her Change.org letter via email, I knew I had to support her petition:

 

…she says she feels the pressures created by these fake photos every day.

“I’m in a ballet class with a bunch of high school girls,” Julia says. “On a daily basis I hear comments like: ‘It’s a fat day,’ and ‘I ate well today, but I still feel fat.'”

…Seventeen‘s editors freely admit they retouch photos — one of the magazine’s editors even wrote, “You know how everyone says celebrities look good in photos because they’re airbrushed? Well, it’s true!”

But these fake photos have a real impact on young girls. Nearly half of girls between first and third grade say they want to be thinner. And by the age of ten, 81% of girls say they’re “afraid of getting fat.”…

 

So Julia is asking Seventeen to start small by running one unaltered photo spread in each issue of their magazine. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask…do you? If not, follow the link below to make your voice heard! She only needs 200 more signatures to meet her goal.

 

Sign Julia’s petition here to speak up for promoting

realistic & healthy body images for young women 

Change.org

 

LizzLoves Soccer Without Borders in Nicaragua December 31, 2011

Image

Ladies, did you play sports as a kid? For me, there was no question about whether or not I COULD play sports, it was just a matter of which ones! I played soccer, softball and basketball from the time I was 4 years old. I also did ballet, tap and gymnastics. And my parents were equally supportive of both. Of course, it helped that in the community and society in which I was raised, little girls and women didn’t have to face obstacles to explore the world of competitive athletics. However, not everyone is that lucky.

 

Soccer Without Borders is an international nonprofit that works to empower youth with soccer as a catalyst. While they have outreach and camps in several countries, one of their efforts called to me in a special way: a girls team in Granada, Nicaragua. Through participation in the SWB program there, these Nicaraguan girls not only build self-esteem and develop a stay-in-school mentality, but they can also gain “points” they can exchange for school supplies, clothes and toiletries.

 

I was so inspired by these chicas, that I included them in my holiday giving by donating to their project through Global Giving. To watch a video of the girls and learn more, click here.

 

Before the new year hits…are you supporting girl power organizations with a donation this year?

 

For another inspiring Latin American soccer story, you should also check out “Dreamtown,” an unforgettable documentary (produced/directed by my talented friend Betty Bastidas) about 3 young Afro-Ecuadoran men who struggle to follow their dreams of finding success as soccer players.

 

 

LizzLoves Casa Atabex Ache May 16, 2011

Photo courtesy of Womens ENews

To women from the South Bronx and all across New York City, Casa Atabex Ache is a refuge, a lighthouse in the storm that sometimes rolls into their lives. But, now that funding is running out, many worry that their second home,  filled with caring sisters, will no longer be able to open the doors when they come knocking.

Casa Atabex Ache is named for the diverse community of women that it attracts (casa = Spanish for home, atabex = indigenous Taino word which represents goddess, ache = Nigerian word for power).  Since 1987, Casa has been providing a haven for women where they can share their voices, heal from trauma and find support and empowerment.

From holistic healing to workshops for teen mothers, Casa is a home-grown and loving source for building sisterhood and empowering youth to make wise life decisions. They work every day to enrich the physical, mental and spiritual health of women in their community.

Help Casa Atabex Ache continue to provide loving support to women in the South Bronx! Click here to donate.

 

LizzLoves Fly Girl Fest May 6, 2011

NYC ladies, oyeme…listen up! If you heart hip-hop, door-knocker earrings and pink AF1’s , and your soul thrives on social justice and artistic expression, tonight’s Fly Girl Fest 2011 is where you should be!

Brought to you by leaders, JLove Calderon and Wanda Vazquez, Fly Girl Fest will feature musical and artistic presentations from young women, students at El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice.

This is NOT your average community event or talent show. It’s much more! These ladies have been guided and mentored by professionals to not only display their talents in a polished presentation, but to rise up as up-and-coming youth leaders. As an added bonus, dope spinstress DJ Chela will be on the 1’s and 2’s between sets.

Put ya’ hands together for these chicas. Thank you for stepping up as the leadership of tomorrow, and spreading the message of girl power and sisterhood!

So head out to Brooklyn tonight (6-8 pm @ El Puente, suggested donation = $3) for this moving event!

Read more about last year’s Fly Girl Fest here.

 

LizzLoves Prom Dress Giveaway March 3, 2011

I’m sitting here admiring two of my old dresses: a red bridesmaid dress from my best friend’s wedding 6 years ago and a formal black and gold one from a dance in college. I have great memories from both events, but I realize…I haven’t worn either dress since! So what good are they, just sadly hanging in my closet?

 

Do you have the same experience? Do you have a closet full of dresses that you only wore once and swear that you might use again sometime?

 

Well,  if you’re anything like me, you would love to find good use for them. So, I was ecstatic when I found out about the annual Prom Dress Giveaway being sponsored by Dominican Sunday, a community organization in New York City. Dominican Sunday has a special focus on Latino outreach in the Upper West Side.

 

Their Prom Dress Giveaway takes donations of new or gently used dresses (as well as shoes, accessories and cosmetics), and gives them to girls in their Senior year of high school who would otherwise not be able to afford dresses and accessories.

 

The first collection is this Saturday, March 5th. So, clean out your closets, ladies! Think about the magic your dress brought to you once and pass that on to a young woman who will surely be smiling in her prom photo, thanks to you.

 

Dresses can be dropped off at Dominican Sunday’s offices this Saturday at:

175 W. 107th St

NY, NY 10025

 

If you can’t make it there this weekend, contact Katherine at khiraldo[at]yahoo[dot]com (<-written that way to prevent spam, thanks!)

 

The drive ends the second week of April, so you still have time! I’m donating 4 dresses…how many do you have to give?

 

Tell me about the dresses you will be donating in my comment section here!

 

LizzLoves the Power of Youth January 9, 2011

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2011 is already treating you well…or at least given you some inspiration.

I had a beautiful dose of inspiration when my friend MB (thanks, mama!) sent me an incredible New York Times article from this weekend’s “Education Life” section.

The piece, “Five Do-Gooders,” featured 5 young people (college age or younger) who have found innovative solutions to problems in their communities and beyond.

Take, for example, Elizabeth Jane Handel, a book lover from Massachusetts who realized that women in prison aren’t able to share the joy of reading with their children as her mother was able to do with her. So, Elizabeth founded an organization called A Book From Mom, where brand new donated books go to prisons for incarcerated women to share with their kids. When their children visit, moms pick out a special book to read with them, and then they can take the book home as a gift and reminder of time with their moms.

And then there’s Dallas Jessup, a spunky athlete who came to understand the power of her martial arts expertise through an epiphany about safety. While she knew she could defend herself easily, she recognized that most women don’t possess the knowledge or training to fight back against sexual assault or attacks from strangers. So, Dallas, with the help of a professor from a local community college, shot a film called “Just Yell Fire” that teaches young women how to use self-defense when they are threatened.

Imagine??? These young women launched these initiatives before even entering college! I can’t wait to see what they will do next! Changing the world, one young woman at a time.

To read more about Elizabeth and Dallas (and 3 other up-and-comers) in the complete New York Times article, “Five D-Gooders.”