“When God dreams, He dreams big and I decided to follow His examples.”
--Madam C.J. Walker
Girls Fly! is fueled by the intergenerational voices of a girl’s dream as influence to move her in positive directions. The positive dreams of her father and mother, grandmother, aunts and community partners become the seeds that Girls Fly! uses to help nurture her. We create an atmosphere of authentic celebration of who she is, where she is, and who people are as a race.
When our founder, Gael-Sylvia Pullen, was an adolescent girl, “colored girls” were defined not only by what was spoken into their lives, but the power of the unspoken words. The unspoken messages either unleashed a world of possibilities or forever bound that adolescent girl to the limiting expectations of others. The voices of “the others” were most often adults. By junior high school, they were words mimicked by peers. They could not see a colored girl achieving more than themselves.
By the time they were in their mid to late twenties and thirties the pressures of adult obligations were putting a distance between their dreams and their realities.
By the time they reached their forties they could barely speak of their hopes and dreams. In their fifties they only referenced their dreams in past tense. In their sixties and older they spoke of their hopes and dreams in past tense, past tense two generations: They no longer believed it possible for themselves nor their adult children, so their hopes were in their grandchildren/
During a sushi scavenger hunt with guest ranging in ages 8 years young to 66 years older, Gael-Sylvia realized that Girls Fly! would be a guidepost opportunity, an intersection of respectfully embracing the whole of who women and girls are. She and a core group of twenty-eight extremely accomplished colored girls who represented regions with a history of oppression, e.g. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi, launched Tucson on May 7, 2011. A partnership was created with the Pascua Yaqui Native American leaders and women in elected offices in Nogales, Mexico to bring a new unspoken message associated with the diverse leadership of colored girls and model out loud inclusion, compassion and the power of influence.
The Girls Fly! dream: Personal impact with community-wide influence locally and globally. To let women and girls around the world know that all of us have something that seems to disable us, but we would harness our abilities to help one another. We want her to know that she is not invisible. We see her and there is a place for her at any stage in life, any circumstance, with any dream within Girls Fly!
On that fateful sunny Saturday, May 8, 201, Girls Fly! experiences crossed all ethnic and socio-economic sectors. Women who were in dream jobs but were searching to fill a void found a connection and clarity. Despite their career achievements, they had felt a lack of identify with other parts of themselves and who they dreamed of being.
Everyone was enthusiastically greeted and celebrated by men from the moment they arrived in the parking lots, men working the Welcome table and me serving their lunch. They were in a safe space, a joyful space giving them a moment to safely connect with others carrying similar sacred dreams. Women and girls from all walks of life connect based on their answer to one question: “What have you always dreamed of doing?!”
That warm Tucson day, we had anticipated 45 local attendees to experience 4 of our iFly dream. We ended up with 24 simultaneous dream experiences running across Tucson. Our Dream Releasers were our mentors of community business partners ranging from dance studios, financial institutions, chefs, publishing houses, American Idol participants, equine owners, Olympians, pilots, aviation partners and many more. We smiled, we hugged, we encouraged, and we celebrated throughout that day long gathering.
Many more came! 628 attendees from two countries and five states attended! Father’s brought their daughters; sons brought their mothers; co-workers and boyfriends brought people they cared about and grandparents brought their adult children and younger daughters. It cumulated with lunch at the Pima Air & Space Museum, launching our film and media component and a panel discussion with women across a variety of sectors represented in the film. This influenced our goal to tell the Girls Fly! story in film and across media outlets.
As a member of Women Moving Millions, Girls Fly! is one way that Gael-Sylvia Pullen is fulfilling her pledge to be supportive and exemplifying the diversity of leadership associated with women and girls, including those of color who are most often mistaken for only being on the receiving end of the philanthropic spoon. She dreams of us being the poster child of financial legacies, not seen only as those in need. Her time is devoted to developing an economically sustainable revenue model in each community where we have Girls Fly! Affiliates serving others. Girls Fly! is living out loud the power of our purses and how we give value to all lives when we give power to the belief that women and girls, indeed, do fly.