In the flurry of activities that rush the start of the New Year, an event at Seven Degrees this Saturday, Jan. 9, offers an opportunity to take a more thoughtful approach to making New Years resolutions.
“New Year, New You: The Beauty Within,” will provide women with information and demonstrations on the best practices for a healthy mind, body and spirit, according to Mindful Her event producers Joanne Forster and Kelly Lam, wife of Wahoo founder and well-known local philanthropist, Wing Lam.
Laguna local Kylie Schuyler will introduce Global G.L.O.W. (Girls Leading Our World), a non-profit in Santa Ana she founded five years ago that uses mentoring, literacy and creative arts to enable girls to become what she calls a potent force for change in the world.
Forster invited Global G.L.O.W. to be the beneficiary of her $159 per person event because she believes that “giving back is part of being mindful,” said Schuyler.
Other guest speakers at the Mindful Her event will give talks on meditation, weight management, nutrition and skincare. Attendees will also enjoy healthy meals and snacks, including acai bowls, a sushi dinner and a healthy happy hour and vendors will offer yoga clothing and supplies, essential oils, natural skin care products and jewelry.
“When I started Global G.L.O.W. my intention was to provide young girls from vulnerable communities with three main things: a safe haven to freely express themselves, the inspiration and support of strong role models, and the belief that their dreams are attainable,” says Schuyler. What started as support for various girls’ organizations in Asia and one afterschool program at El Sol Science and Arts Academy of Santa Ana, now serves 26 countries and over 10,000 girls.
The genesis of the project was a program Schuyler started in Cambodia after building schools throughout Asia from 2002 to 2009. “I noticed that only boys were coming to new schools,” she said. “Girls Be Ambition” paid families $10 per month to keep their daughters in school. “It worked like a charm,” she added, noting those girls have now moved on to higher education or have good, non-factory jobs, will likely marry later, have fewer, healthier children and will educate those children and break the cycle of poverty.
Realizing she needed funds to support her non-profit work, Schuyler conceived a frozen yoghurt brand with a French business partner in 2011. The idea she said was to offer the French an alternative to gelato and ice cream. California Bliss was born in 2013 with the help of Ronan Kernen, a “Top Chef” candidate. All proceeds benefit Schuyler’s work with girls around the world.
At headquarters in Santa Ana, girls aged 10-16 gather after school at The G.L.O.W. House for activities in creative expression, literacy programs and consistent mentoring. There and in other sites throughout the community, the girls come together with college women who are recruited as mentors for year-long stints to support social and emotional development and self expression using studio art, poetry, music, photography, digital design, publication projects.
“We advertise paid mentoring positions on the websites at UCI, Chapman, Cal State Fullerton and Santa Ana College,” said Schuyler. The mentors, who are assigned to four girls for the year, receive thorough training and on-going support. “We want to do the best for them, too,” says Schuyler, who adds that the position is like a first job for many of the mentors and provides them with leadership training.
Part of the training is the art of listening, Schuyler explained. “We once had a young girl who was scared to go to school because she was being bullied; we helped her mentor ask the right questions and listen carefully to the answers,” she said. As the situation resolved, “you could see the transformation,” Schuler said of the girl who is now in seventh grade and will be part of Saturday’s presentation.
Recently, award-winning poet Sue Cronmiller joined the Global G.L.O.W. team to create arts-based curriculum tailored for communities around the world. The non-profit has partnerships with over 30 organizations including LitWorld, of New York, which supplies Global G.L.O.W with literacy based curricula used in all their programs. Another partner, Orange County’s Second Harvest Food Bank, provides healthy meals for more than 250 girls in Santa Ana.
Last fall G.L.O.W. House extended its programming to Sana Ana students from El Sol Elementary, Nova Early College Academy, Carr Intermediate School, Bowers Kidseum, and KidWorks.
At “New Year, New You: The Beauty Within,” Schuyler will offer participants the opportunity to join G.L.O.W. Women in a way they choose. “They can share their stories and talents around the world or locally.”
So far, G.L.O.W. Women have visited Jordan to lend support at a Syrian refugee camp and volunteered to participate with the girls and mentors at an upcoming United Nations event in March. Volunteers can lead an art or music activity, tell how their career path unfolded or share a passion. “The goal is to create a network,” Schuyler says.
Networking opportunities exist for the mentors as well. After their first year, some of the college girls opt to stay with Global G.L.O.W. for a raise in pay and additional responsibilities. For example, a seasoned mentor from G.L.O.W. House will be sent to lead a group of new recruits who will begin working with Boys and Girls Club members in Anaheim this year.