Detroit middle school students head to New York City for international summit

By Koco McAboy - Reporter

DETROIT - Three girls from Noble Elementary Middle School in Detroit are heading to New York City for the Global HerStory Summit. 

The summit has been an annual event since 2016 to connect girls from all over the world. This year, there are nine countries participating. Three schools from the United States are a part of the summit including Noble Elementary Middle School.

"The girls are going to focus on themselves, their community, the world and their future," said Cynthia Coble, the HerStory Campaign Coordinator for Detroit. 

She interviewed girls for a spot at the summit and narrowed the list down to 12-year-olds Amaya O'Neal, Alicia Goodman and 13-year old Aniya Spears. 

"The girls have shown year after year that they are active participants in the community," Coble said. 

The girls were asked about their experiences. 

"We just put out to them basic questions of what problems do you face as a girl in your community," said Coble. 

The girls had answers and plans to correct the various problems. 

"Now you hear rap songs about us being called dogs and garden tools, and it makes us look bad like we are that. Guys always call us out our names, and it's very disrespectful. Not all men do that, just some men," said Aniya Spears. 

Amaya brought up issues with self-esteem. 

"It was for women to stop being embarrassed about how they look and don't let people tell them they're ugly, that they're not smart because everybody is smart and beautiful on the inside," said Amaya. 

The girls want to change the conversation. 

"We [girls] do a lot of things. We're amazing. We're beautiful. We're kind. We're independent. We don't have to always rely on a guy for anything," said Aniya. 

Alicia Goodman created an action plan to give girls a "chill place" to connect and build their self confidence. 

"I'd like to help other girls who are dealing with self doubt, self-consciousness and help them through that experience," said Goodman. 

She is looking forward to meeting new girls at the summit. 

"I would like to meet new girls, and learn about their culture because I think that'd be a really interesting experience to learn about," said Goodman. 

Shawn Forman, who is a Pre-K teacher and the Lit Club mentor has formed a relationship with the girls and will be attending the summit with them.

"I think it's important for our students in the city of Detroit. Unfortunately for a really long time we've gotten a really bad rep in Detroit, and our kids are amazing. They're resilient. They're smart. When our kids are given the opportunity, they show up and they glow," said Forman.  

The students will be celebrating the "International Day of the Girl" as part of the summit next Thursday.

For more information on the HerStory campaign, visit the official website here

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