R-O-C-K IN DC
Are you ready to rock?
That’s what Girls Rock! DC asks young girls throughout the DMV. Through a yearly summer camp and the eight-week Girls Rock! After School Program at The SEED School in Southeast, Girls Rock! DC teaches girls the confidence they need to become smart, successful women.
And why do girls rock? “Cause we’re awesome. I’m awesome,” said Dayanah, a 9th grader.
“Our mission at Girls Rock! is to empower young women and female-identified persons to find their own voices, be heard, be loud, be different than what they’re typically being told to be, and we do that through music education,” said Frankie V, head of GR!ASP.
SEED resident advisor Janice Carroll was the force behind bringing Girls Rock! to the school. “Because of my background interest in music, in DJing, I was like, let’s try this.” She began volunteering at the summer camp after seeing a SEED student perform at a showcase.
The first day of the program, each girl chooses an instrument and starts learning to play. From there, they’re put into bands that each write a song to perform at the end-of-term showcase. While learning their instruments, the girls learn social skills and meet new friends.
“I recognize my talent more, and it’s not just singing and dancing, like today I realized that I’m good at the drums too,” said Dayanah, who has been in GR!ASP since it started last year.“...It has helped me a lot to recognize who I am as a person and my musical talents."
Frankie is blown away by all that the program gives to the girls. “To give them an opportunity to do something they’d never have the opportunity to do and meet another person who is similar to their background, or maybe not even, but mix them all together, to come out and produce a song, it’s huge.”
Empowerment is a core value of Girls Rock! DC. Guest speakers and artists visit the program on a regular basis. Frankie recalled a visit from prominent African American female business owners. “(They) just… talked to the girls about ‘hey I came from a similar background and look where (I am), it’s possible.’”
The girls carry the lessons they learn playing music into their everyday lives.
“It has helped me become more confident in my performing and strengthen my skill(s),” said Madison, a 9th grader. She also has learned that “it’s ok to work with others, because you can make a stronger force with each other.”
“It takes a lot to be a girl,” she said. “And people just don’t understand that….it takes a lot of strength to be a girl.”
Janice has seen many girls gain self-confidence through Girls Rock! One girl, Sydney, has gone from having stage fright to a lead role in the school’s production of “The Lion King.”
“I remember her almost freaking out (at the showcase), because she didn’t want to perform…,” Janice said. She credits Girls Rock! with helping Sydney believe in herself.
Conflict resolution comes into play. In GR!ASP’s first year, some of the girls were apprehensive about performing, which led to a debate or two. At the same time, Frankie was going through a personal tragedy. “I was like listen, you guys don’t understand how important what you’re doing right now is.”
By sharing what she was going through, Frankie helped the girls gain perspective. After that, they were able to put aside their fears and differences.
“They all kind of looked at each other and they (said) ‘Like we have to do this. We’ve been working so hard and we have to do this.’ And they hugged me, and we went to the show, and the show was amazing.”
The girls also use the program to express themselves and to get away from everyday life. “I think it’s peaceful. Like you can talk to your band coaches or you can let (it) out through your music,” said Madison.
It’s not just the girls who benefit from Girls Rock! Frankie said she’s learned the value of selflessness, and being a good role model to young women.
She recalls being nervous when her band played the lunch time at camp, but by the end of the set, all the girls practically rushed the stage.
“Just to see them looking up to you, and even though I was so nervous, I was like freaking out, sweating bullets, and to them, they were like ‘I can do this, ‘cause you can do this’...That’s so rewarding.”
About the Author: Ashley Angeline is an intern with the Daily Do Good. A student at the University of Cincinnati, Ashley aspires to be a broadcast journalist. And to marry Prince Harry