In Her Own Words

At our annual Start Something Big Breakfast on Tuesday, October 11, Little Sister Claudia shared how her involvement in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Young Women’s Leadership Project has made a positive impact in her life…
Good morning ladies and gentlemen, my name is Claudia. I’m 13 and an 8th grader at Thomas Harrison Middle School.
I would like to share with you about how being a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Young Women’s Leadership Project has changed me for the better.
I joined Young Women’s Leadership last year, when I was in seventh grade. I was also matched with my Big Sister, Coral. I’ll talk more about her later.
Through Young Women’s Leadership, we did activities about positive self-confidence, exploring careers, healthy relationships, being safe online, and setting goals for ourselves. We also took field trips to Camp Horizons, Young Women’s Leadership Conference, and JMU.
We talked about school and talked about our lives outside of school. We learned that many of us share the same challenges and feelings. We made new friendships and learned how important it is to build each other up instead of break each other down.
We learned that we have the power to change the way we talk to ourselves in our heads and that staying positive makes a big difference.
Before being involved in the Young Women’s Leadership Project, I was very shy and my confidence was low. I usually had one or two friends and wasn’t involved in activities outside of school.
Young Women’s Leadership has helped make me more outgoing and has helped me believe in myself. Before last year, there is no way that I would have gotten up to speak in front of a group this big!
This past summer, I was invited to participate in two different youth camps through Big Brothers Big Sisters.
My first camp was at JMU and part of the Young Women’s Leadership Project. We stayed in the dorms, ate at the dining hall, worked on digital projects, and got to experience what it was like to be on a college campus.
My second camp was at Camp Horizons. I stayed for a week and did so many fun things like kayaking, ropes course, mountain biking, swimming, zip-lining, and acting classes. I even won an award for being the best actor – not bad for someone who used to be shy like me.
Through Big Brothers Big Sisters, I was also matched with my Big Sister Coral. Being matched with Coral has been amazing. She’s outgoing, creative, fun, confident, and positive.
Some of my favorite experiences with her have been making crafts, baking together, getting ice cream, and going out for pizza.
Even though we are not related by blood, I think of Coral just like a real sister. I am looking forward to many more fun filled times with her.
Someday, I hope to go to college like Coral and maybe explore the creative side of me that Young Women’s Leadership has helped me get to know.
This year looks a whole lot different for me than it could have looked. Instead of that shy girl with one or two friends sitting home doing who knows what after school, I will be very busy.
I will be trying out for Cheerleading this fall. I am hoping to continue in a new 8th grade young women’s group. I have also signed up to be a Student Ambassador to welcome new students to the school and help them have an easier time making friends.
These opportunities through Young Women’s Leadership and Big Brothers Big Sisters have been very memorable for me.
I have opened my circle of friends. I have learned more about myself and who I want to become… and I have someone I look up to in Coral to help me along the way.
Thank you for your support of the Young Women’s Leadership Project and Big Brothers Big Sisters. It has made such a big difference for me.

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