The Women’s Environmental Institute, Jazzmin Brooks (Blaine High School) and Dafina Bobo (Blake School) of Girls in Motion, Cindy Reuther, executive director of Laura Jeffrey Academy, and Adrienne Diercks of Project Success will be honored by the Ann Bancroft Foundation as Dream Makers on April 29. The awards recognize individual achievement and promotes initiatives that inspire courage, risk-taking, integrity and individuality in girls and women.
The Ann Bancdroft Foundaton exemplifies the spirit of explorer and adventurer Ann Bancroft. She was the first women to finish expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. She participated in Will Steger’s International North Pole Expedition completing after 56 days of using dogsleds. Bancroft is planning an international expedition in 2011 of women to commemorate Ronald Amundsen’s discovery of the South Pole 100 years ago. She wants to reach 50 million youth around the globe and join educators using a curriculum that will include environment-water, Dare to Dream, peaceful conflict resolutions, and Antarctica.
The Women’s Environmental Institute, an environmental justice organization in North Branch, Minnesota will receive the award for support of girls and women. WEI does environmental justice work that has helped communities to learn about and then organize on their own behalf to reduce their exposure to environmental toxins.
“We have helped the Phillips neighborhood stop the development of a wood-burning power plant in their neighborhood and Excel’s proposed route for high voltage transmission lines.” said Karen Clark, WEI’s executive director and DFL Representative for District 61A, which includes Phillips, Whittier, and Steven Square. “We also have been working with Little Earth to do an urban farm project so that their families can have fresh, nutritious and indigenous foods. Children can heal from toxins if they have good food to eat. We are also helping the Hmong and the Latinos in the East Metro in St. Paul to determine what they want to do with toxins in their neighborhoods.”
Jazzmin Brooks (Blaine High School) and Dafina Bobo (Blake School), two high school juniors, will receive the girl’s leadership and achievement award for “Girls in Motion,” a youth organization for girls from 6th to 12th grades that puts education first, and does social justice and community service work. They started their non-profit four years ago.
“We just saw how many opportunities that we had been given along the way and wanted to share with other girls. We change the world one girl at a time.” said Brooks. Dafina is in China for study abroad with other students from her school for her junior year. The girls have done HIV/AIDS awareness through public service announcements, workshops, teen summit and assembled stuffed bears for children in Africa affected by the disease. Their future projects are a second teen summit for HIV/AIDS essay competition, “What does following in the footsteps of our ancestors mean to you?” and “Girls, get your money right” workshop. “I just want girls to not be afraid of being strong in all areas of their lives.” said Brooks.
Cindy Reuther, executive director of Laura Jeffrey Academy in St. Paul, will be given an ABF award for starting the first girl-focused, arts-infused, science, technology, and math and engineering middle school in 2007. In the future she hopes to replicate a girl-focused school in Minneapolis and then do one nationally.
“Girls’ motivation for math and science decline around the age of 10 and with a girl-focused school students leap ahead. It is a huge opportunity.” said Reuther. “We want students with the least access to opportunity to have the chance to attend our school.” She went on to say, “It takes a lot of money to do education well; the burden is doing it well. If people want to help we need one-on-one mentors, fundraising for adventure outings, and lobby the governor and legislature for money.”
The leadership and achievement awardee, Adrienne Diercks founded Project Success 18 years ago out of a sense that many young people drift aimlessly through school. She was one of them.
“I wanted to use theater for students to discover their passions, dream about their future, and then set goals to make that possible.” said Diercks, executive director of Project Success.
This program follows students for seven years from grades 6 through 12 with monthly attendance of local theater performances. Performances are followed up with discussion about decision-making and planning students’ futures with the help from 10 full-time paid facilitators.
“We now serve 17 public schools, 10,000 students or 100,000 kids including their families,” said Diercks. “We partner with 30 theaters providing free transportation, free childcare and donated tickets. In middle school we focus on setting goals and talking about their dreams. High school is planning for their postgraduate futures.”
The April 29th event will include a dinner, social hour, silent auction, display of past awards. Ann Bancroft will be present, as will Julie Nelson from Channel 11 TV, who will emcee the evening program. Proceeds from the event will further the Ann Bancroft Foundation. For ticket information contact www.annbancroftfoundation.org or call Tracy Adams at 763-479-4499.