Free summer camp uses art to empower young women

CLEVELAND - A group of young women stood in a circle and yelled a chant they just made up just a few hours ago.

"You're my sister over here, you're my sister over there!" they screamed while clapping and stomping.

These young women are doing much more than just clapping and singing at the West Side Community House in Cleveland, they're forming bonds that will last a lifetime with girls just like them.

"I like coming here, plus I'm an only child so I like having new friends, meeting new friends and seeing my old friends," said returning camper Kimmie Hankins.

About 35 girls are participating in the free Summer of Sisterhood summer camp. Ali Black, the Youth Services Director, says these young ladies are learning about empowerment through the arts.

"They rotate through workshops, dance, music, theater and literacy while working together as a group to write songs to make a music CD," she said.

Camp started on Wednesday, so many of the 10 to 18-years-old are meeting for the first time, but by the end of the summer they'll take the stage at Cleveland State University and put on a show.

Black says its just as much about the show as it is about the sisterhood.

"When we think of girls, there's all this drama around girls and girls can't get along, and girls can't work together, but the complete opposite happens here," she said with a smile.

That special bond is something 15-year-old Ronnea Worley understands.

"I've been really shy since I came here. But with help by Ms. Ali I've really come out of my shell and I've made a lot of new friends that I hope will be my friends until I'm old," she said while laughing.

The camp last for eight weeks and the final show will be August 3.

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