Girls empowered by performance

Oxford Mail: Youth worker, Sinnita Williams, centre, with girls who attended Arts Council England-funded literacy project at Blackbird Leys Library Buy this photo Youth worker, Sinnita Williams, centre, with girls who attended Arts Council England-funded literacy project at Blackbird Leys Library

YOUNG girls in Oxford have been learning about strong, empowering women as part of a month-long project.

Last night the 10 youngsters, from the Blackbird Leys area, put on a performance at Ruskin College in Old Headington, using poetry, spoken word and song called Empoword.

The girls, who are between the ages of nine and 15, have been working with Leys Community Development Initiative (CDI) for the past month at Blackbird Leys library.

The project is part of the Tell Tales series during National Storytelling Week, which started on Saturday, and was funded by Arts Council England.

Over the past month poets, spoken word artists and rappers Amy Tru, Amerah Saleh and Malika Booker helped to develop young women’s voices and encourage them to share their stories.

Youth worker Sinnita Williams said the girls have learnt not to idolise celebrities.

She said: “I think the main thing they have got from it and the best thing is about different women.

“A lot of them idolised people like singer Nicki Minaj and through this they have found there are much more empowering women they can look up to.

“They have realised the media doesn’t portray these celebrities in the best light at times and there are other strong women who aren’t always recognised for their work. That is really great for them to learn.”

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The group has looked at stories from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings author Maya Angelou and Alice Walker, who wrote The Color Purple, a novel which looks at black women in 1930s America.

Ms Williams added: “The girls are definitely feeling much more empowered after this and the girls have been enjoying themselves and learning from very strong women.

“They have been able to express themselves really well since and have all written their own pieces of poetry and have created songs which they performed.

“They have got into it so well. I am really pleased with their progress.”

Youth project development manager Marsha Jackson said: “This has brought the girls much closer together and enabled them to express their stories through poetry and the spoken word.”

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