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Camp Cinderella Empowers Foster Youth at Pepperdine
Cinderella's rags-to-riches story may be a fairytale, but Los Angeles organization HerShe has taken on a "fairy Godmother" role to many girls in foster care, giving them skills, confidence, and even treating them to a Cinderella-like ball to help them in their transition to adulthood. For the last three years, Pepperdine University has been the site of "Camp Cinderella," HerShe's two-week camp for young women in foster care who have been victims of neglect and abuse.
Emancipation refers to the transition from adolescence to adult independence for children in the foster care system. According to Los Angeles County Child Support Program, seven out of 10 foster youth become homeless and six out of 10 become incarcerated within one year of emancipation. One out of two girls in foster care have been physically and/or sexually abused, making female foster youths characteristically wounded, deprived, and laden with emotional scars that affect their bodies, behavior, and worldview.
Camp Cinderella aims to reverse these statistics by giving these young women positive role models, a focused curriculum of skills necessary to cope in adulthood, and challenging activities to build self-esteem and leadership, all in the safe and beautiful surroundings of Pepperdine's Malibu campus. The camp culminates with the Cinderella Ball, during which the foster girls dance the waltz in gorgeous gowns and have an opportunity to feel special, sometimes for the first time in their lives.
HerShe's "Camp Cinderella" is one of three summer camps that take place on the Pepperdine campus that focus on and provide important services for foster, homeless, and/or orphaned children.
"We are thrilled that in some small way we can contribute to worthwhile projects such as these for children who are far less fortunate than many," says Kanet Thomas, director of Special Programs at Pepperdine University.
Camp Cinderella at Pepperdine is just the first phase of the HerShe program. The second phase pairs the young ladies with a mentor and includes a year of additional life-skills training, activities, and another public performance. The third and final phase asks that they get involved in the selection and peer mentoring of the next class of HerShe, followed by an official graduation from the program in June.
"Our goal is for each young lady to stay involved and committed to HerShe until she has achieved the HerShe Group mission of transitioning successfully into adulthood," says Kenadie Cobbin Richardson, founder and chief executive of HerShe.
Click here to find out more about HerShe and Camp Cinderella.