EDUCATION TODAY: New Females of Color program will empower, inspire young women at Dayton Public Schools

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The Dayton Public School District is launching a Females of Color program next school year. The program will provide young women in DPS with opportunities to participate in activities, projects and discussions that empower and inspire them to be positive leaders in their schools and communities.

For the last five years, the DPS Males of Color program has aimed to build character, enhance critical thinking skills, guide and motivate young men and provide them with cultural enrichment. It upholds the values of integrity, honor, scholarship and brotherhood. The Females of Color program will focus on the same core principles, but will replace “brotherhood” with “sisterhood.”

The Males of Color program serves students in grades 4-12 and will add third grade students next year. Each school has a designated life coach to lead student activities and discussions. Students from all schools then come together for larger group activities. Despite the pandemic, the Males of Color program held fishing trips and golf outings, virtual game and trivia nights, and mentoring and leadership opportunities throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

The Females of Color program will be structured in the same way and will serve students in grades 3-6. Each year, a new grade level will be added until the program serves 3-12 students. Although the program will not formally serve middle and high school students next year, Dr. Stacy Worley, Director of the Office for Cultural Engagement and Inclusion, said the program will identify older students to participate in activities and opportunities.

“Adding a Females of Color program is long overdue,” said Worley. “There are times where some of the young boys mention that they wish their sister could have experiences like they do, or parents ask when there will be a similar program for young ladies. One of my visions when I came on board was to create a consistent message on both sides of the aisle with young men and young women. We want to provide both groups with opportunities, give them both a safe space to talk about things they want to talk about, and also guide them in a positive direction.”

Worley said despite the program names, both are open to students of all backgrounds and ethnicities and work to foster inclusion throughout the district.

“We want to make sure all students of all ethnicities have a place where they feel like they belong,” said Worley. “Whether they are Turkish, Swahili, Caucasian, African American and so on, they can all come together and celebrate each other’s heritage.”

Worley said this year, the students have tackled tough conversations in their “locker room chats” with their life coaches. They have discussed the Black Lives Matter movement, George Floyd, and other current events and how they affected them. They also regularly discuss how to be respectful to their parents, how to build life skills and social skills, and how to uphold the program’s core values.

Next year, young women in DPS will have the same opportunities to hold important discussions, learn valuable life skills, and build lasting friendships. Worley said he is also planning community service projects and activities for both groups to participate in together.

After the school year ends, a summer camp will be held for students in grades 3-6. Current Males of Color students, those interested in joining the program and those interested in joining the new Females of Color program are welcome to attend.

For more information about the programs, contact Dr. Stacy Worley at sworley@daytonpublic.com.

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