By: Angela Greene | GwinnettCitizen.com
Third, Fourth and Fifth grade students from Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood gathered in the school cafeteria to discuss the importance of setting goals on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 during Professional Development Wednesday.

A Lawrenceville mother learned through her former role as a stay-at-home mom of two young daughters, there is truth in the adage, “necessity is the mother of invention.” Toyasha Vaughn was inspired to develop S.E.L.F., an empowerment program for girls ages 5-18 after experiencing a few challenges of her own.

There are four pillars of S.E.L.F: self -determination, empowerment, love, and freedom, which encourages self-promotion, self-esteem, self-awareness, and self-worth. Vaughn chose these pillars because she wanted girls to be the best possible version of themselves by embracing their thought-power.

The goal of S.E.L.F. is to help girls and young women of color to succeed in their transition into adulthood. This program targets girls from disadvantaged communities who otherwise might not get the guidance they need in understanding the inherent challenges and dynamics they could face in life. 

One can never underestimate the power of thoughts because our thoughts influence who we are, what we do, what we acquire, whom we love, what we will become and what we will accomplish, says Vaughn.

“Our services influence girls positively by creating opportunities for girls to take pride in themselves, assume responsibility, act independently, tolerate frustrations, and maintain self-control,” said Vaughn. Moreover, she adds, “S.E.L.F. encourages girls to act independently while attempting new tasks, and challenges that are appropriate for their individual need, growth, and abilities.”

Although Vaughn did not participate in a similar program as a young girl, she understands the value of a gender-responsive program that promotes sisterhood. Ultimately, she hopes to drive girl’s inspiration, build growth, and personal development through individual power. 

Shasta Rodgers’, daughter Haiden (12) aspires to participate in S.E.L.F., and it appears her mother agrees. 

“I have seen Toyasha in action with the girls involved in her program and I believe that the passion she has for them and their growth and development is a great example of a role model. This is leadership that they may not otherwise see and the opportunities S.E.L.F. provides is a foundation for their future that may lead them to become leaders as well”, Rodgers said.

On Wednesday, October 11, 2017, Kindergarten onlookers from Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood sat in wonderment while Toyasha Vaughn, Founder of S.E.L.F. presented the importance of setting goals. So often, goal setting is done with older children. S.E.L.F. believes goal setting is important no matter what age you are.

On Wednesday, October 11, 2017, Kindergarten onlookers from Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood sat in wonderment while Toyasha Vaughn, Founder of S.E.L.F. presented the importance of setting goals. So often, goal setting is done with older children. S.E.L.F. believes goal setting is important no matter what age you are.

S.E.L.F. offers workshops to girls who are separated by their age and grade level. Some of the workshop topics include attitudes and values, family and respect, human dignity, self-management, and educational aspirations.

“I like to think the topics are focused on a growth mindset, which is the ability to see struggles as a natural part of getting better at something, the ability to persevere through challenges,” said Vaughn.

Many of the participants in the S.E.L.F. program are introduced through schools, after-school programs, and juvenile detention centers. S.E.L.F. is currently seeking an opportunity to run its pilot program during which time, the program is free to participants and partners. Once the program is initiated, fees will be site-based, and not on an individual basis.

“The girls at Ivy Prep Academy benefited from the program in a gamut of different ways. They were able to learn how to have a positive mindset, what a goal is, and how important it is to set attainable goals,” says Kelli White of Ivy Prep Academy in Dekalb.

She added, “The greatest incentive to participate is the quality of the program and the fact that it is purpose and results driven. Toyasha makes a point to make sure pre and post-test are given to gauge the effectiveness of her program lesson. She is focused on making sure that she meets with the participants that she is interactive, positive, and excited about what she is teaching them.

S.E.L.F. is an opportunity to participate in a sisterhood where girls unite to share and learn from each other in a fun and positive manner. What’s not to love about that?

Published: 2018-03-23 01:40