Girl World, a program within Alternatives Inc in the neighborhood of Uptown on Chicago’s North Side, provides gender specific and age appropriate programming for girls and young women ages 10 to 18. Program activities focus on increasing self-esteem and self-efficacy, encouraging teamwork and social justice awareness, and developing leaders. In partnership with CURL, Girl World designed and implemented Participatory Research asking the question "How do young African American women feel about their hair and what influences them to feel that way?" They reviewed literature, collected data through observations, interviews and photos and analyzed data. Issues of self esteem, self perception, cultural norms, racism and the creation of beauty images were all confronted as part of this project.
In spring of 2003 the team presented their findings to the community. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, sparking intergenerational dialogues about the significance of hair for African American and all women, inspiring other girl’s groups to initiate their own research projects, and leading the Chicago Foundation for Women to award the GDRP team with the 2003 Ripple Award.
Center for Urban Research and Learning; Troche-Rodriguez, Madeline; and Palmert, Jessica, "Girl Driven Research Project" (2002). Center for Urban Research and Learning: Publications and Other Works. 23.
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