I love holidays! Not because they are an opportunity to gather with friends and family. Not because of all the good food it brings. Not for the spirit of giving. I mostly love this time of year because it gives me a chance to reflect on the year’s accomplishments and have the opportunity to slow down and give thanks to YOU. Without the help of our staff, contractors, interns, volunteers, program participants, sponsors, partners, board members and other supporters like you, we would not be able to provide the necessary mental health resources to the thousands of Black women and girls we served this year. What a year WE’ve had!
I say WE, because you all played a vital part in our programs’ success this year. When I take a look back at all we have accomplished: from our fireside chat with Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker, to our Black Girls are Magic conference, to our Sisterhood Summit, and ending with a spotlight on the “TODAY Show” digital community platform for the work we do to assist young Black women and girls to show up as their authentic selves in the world—I’m in awe. We have much more in store for next year.
Next year, Black Girls Smile plans to position our program services in one of the most influential places in our participants’ emotional development—the classroom. We will also be launching our Suicide Prevention Program with proceeds from the Morgan Stanley Innovation Award. Lastly, we will continue to assess the gaps in mental health service accessibility and build on our programs to fill those deficiencies.
The holidays are also a time to reflect on those that are no longer with us. With the recent rise of suicidal ideations among Black women and girls we know our work is not done. We must continue to help our community reverse the stigma of seeking mental health services. We must encourage seeking these services at the preventive instead of the crisis stage. Lastly, we must assist with removing some of the other challenges, such as economic restrictions, to assist with service affordability. Although we have our work cut out for us, we are up for the challenge—Black women and girls are worth it!
Wishing you all a Happy Holidays and prosperous New Year!
Black Girls Smile Founder and Executive Director