Chocolate Fest 2015 and G.R.O.W.

If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then chocolate is definitely the runner up that we hang out with on the weekends. On Nov. 11, the Women’s Resource Center and WISE Institute held their annual Chocolate Festival. This festival celebrates healthy living for women (mentally and physically). Each year the event raises money for a charity that is focused on women’s health. One of the foundations at the 2015 festival was G.R.O.W.

G.R.O.W. (Girls Redefining Our Worth) is a non-profit community mentoring program founded by Autumn Cohen. Cohen had this goal to create something that not only helped others, but raised awareness for young girls in these harsh times where body image, violence and overall well being is taken too lightly. She was in her senior year at Tuskegee University when she decided it was time to fulfill her goal, so she founded G.R.O.W. “G.R.O.W. is geared towards discussing current events, having the ‘different conversations,’ promoting women’s empowerment, and hosting workshops encompassing all of these things. Because no one is transparent, we need to talk about these things.”

Two of its biggest campaigns were the NNNE Campaign and the #IAM Movement. NNNE (Not Now Not Ever) shed light on teen dating violence, for example how to recognize the signs and how to get out of those situations. The #IAM Movement focuses on positive self talk. Autumn found herself becoming very insecure about life events, school and herself. She noticed the words “I am not” or “I can not” being used too much in conversation, so she started this campaign to encourage women to speak positively about themselves and their futures. The movement ask that you post a selfie on Instagram with the caption starting off with “I AM…” followed by something positive and unique about you!

HC: What was your biggest challenge in starting this program?

Autumn: I would have to say support has been my biggest challenge. Getting to the audience we want to mentor to is harder than it seems. G.R.O.W. held its first workshop awhile back, and we only had about eight people show up. It was discouraging, but I knew we were still in the starting phase. We are currently focused on hosting workshops at schools, since there are already classes with girl groups established and organized.

HC: What is your goal for 2016?

Autumn: Wow, well I always have a cloud of ideas raining in my head, but my goal for 2016 would be to host G.R.O.W.’s first girls conference in the summer. I want it to be an event centered around empowerment, money management, makeup turtorials, how to dress for your body type and other events along that path. I want to have different vendors and programs there to help young women better understand themselves and connect with others. There will also be a spring fundraising team precluding the conference so that we can raise money for the actual event.

If you want to get involved with G.R.O.W.  visit these links!

Instagram: @_growinggirls_

Facebook: Girls Redefining Our Worth