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Francesca Chaney - Brooklyn, NY

Submitted by Nicole Tancredi - Massapequa, NY

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As a teenager she poses as a role model and inspiration for the youth all over the world.

As a teacher in East New York, Brooklyn for 9 years now, I have had the pleasure of working with some phenomenal students. Many of our students are underprivileged and have lived a life at the age of 15, 16, and 17 that many people the age of 50 could not say they have lived. In the midst of the inner city poverty, violence, and crime, one particular female student, Francesca Chaney has gone above and beyond at the age of 16 to not only help herself but has created an organization to nurture the growth and development of minority adolescent girls called G.A.I.N.

"Girls Advocating and Innovating the Nation is an initiative to nurture the growth and development of minority adolescent girls within the age range of 8-14 in lower income communities. This program was created due to the lack of role models in the community that weren't willing to address the issues or tackle what statistics say a young minority female may become in the future. The statistics and media have been harsh, and the most common phrases that pop up in the description of what these girls may encounter or become are “High School Dropouts” “Teenage Pregnancies and Abortions” and “Governmental Assistance.” To make matters worse, in a media saturated society, there are not many positive celebrities or public figures that these girls can relate to, which cause self esteem issues from a very young age that may or may not be addressed in the future. The lack of self esteem soon turns into the root of many other issues which would eventually send them down the wrong path in life. G.A.I.N gives each and every girl involved, an opportunity to interact with teenage mentors that become their support system and guidance." 

While many girls her age face problems of self esteem, obesity, pressure to look like the images of the media, Francesca has created an organization to inspire young girls before they are able to feel low confidence, she has trained girls her age to become positive influences within her community, and has spread her program to Belize as well. Accepted to her dream college Howard University, Francesca chose to stay closer to the heart of program so that she could continue to spread her revolution of inspiring girls to become powerful woman such as herself. 

This story was submitted as part of Oxam America's International Women's Day initiative to honor women working to right the wrongs of poverty and hunger. Honorees are selected independently by Oxfam supporters. Selection does not imply endorsement or other support from Oxfam America.

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