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Young San Diego girls planting 'seeds of change' through social justice ideas

Recent graduates of the new Seeds of Change program at Girls Inc. of San Diego share their experience with race and learning how to have their voices be heard.

SAN DIEGO — Fueled by last summer’s social justice movement, the conversation around race, privilege and unconscious bias has ignited young people. A group of young girls is learning how to use their voices to make a positive impact with the support of Girls Inc. of San Diego County. The free program inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold.

“I know what it feels like to be discriminated by or not be listened to, and I don't want anybody to ever feel that way,” said Michaelah Stokes, 14.

The La Mesa Helix Charter High School freshman is an African American activist passionate about Black Lives Matter, feminism and LGBTQ rights.

“I want to fight for people who want to stick up for themselves, but don't know how to or if they feel as if they're not being listened to. I just want to be the change that the world needs,” said Stokes.

That change is happening at Girls Inc. of San Diego County, a free program that teaches girls ages 8-18 about mind body wellness, academic success and community engagement.

In response to last summer’s Black Lives Matter movement grew Seeds of Change, a free 14-week,10-session social justice program creating conversations around racism, gender identity, privilege, and advocacy for all girls.

“We just need to hold more accountability for people who can make a change and people who are willing to make a change,” said Yaretzi Velasco.

She is a junior at Mission Vista High School in Oceanside and advocates for immigrant rights, climate change and women’s liberation. She says educating is key to understanding our diverse communities.

“We learn from each other and with each other, which I think is really important,” said Velasco.

Both teens were influenced by their mothers who found Girls Inc. on Facebook and encouraged their daughters to join.

The CEO of Girls Inc. of San Diego County said what’s important is empowering young women to be life-long learners.

“When you understand that path and you can see yourself walking that path, you're more likely to continue to step into it, more likely to continue to use that voice and ultimately find yourself in that seat of authority,” said Sandra Ainslie, Girls Inc. of San Diego CEO.

With each seed of change young women are finding their voice.

“It not only gives you a sense of confidence to go out and do what you want to step forward and do, but it gives you friends to help you go along with you,” said Stokes.

Through Seeds of Change Stokes and Velasco founded The Voices of the Unheard Project which uplifts and amplifies under-represented voices in all communities.

To learn more about these initiatives click here.

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