This post originally appeared on January 8, 2019 at 12:35p as ASU Lodestar Center Blog post: Ally Shares Her Experience in Program
My name is Niamey Thomas. My name means River; it is the capital and largest city in the West African country Niger. My name represents the essence of power, strength and peace, which I try to embody every day. I am Black and Mexican and I am a creator. I create dances, curriculums and spaces for people of color to understand their identity, passion and purpose — these are lessons others tried to teach me but failed because they were more concerned with the box I did not fit into than the freedom I can have outside the boundaries of that box.
I found that organization. Swift Youth Foundation is an organization that focuses on supporting the social and emotional development of youth and enhances social awareness and leadership skills for teens through mentor relationships. As the Program Coordinator, I created the curriculum for four of the seven programs: Swift After School, Club Swift, Swift Saturday and Club Swift Jr.
A time that sticks out to me was the day we were talking about our leadership styles. The students each took an assessment that would tell them their strengths and leadership style. It was exciting to learn things they had always thought of as weaknesses were actually strengths. One girl specifically comes to mind. She wanted to be a makeup artist but was not sure how to do it. Becoming “Instagram famous” did not work for everyone and she felt defeated when her posts did not get the views she desired. We began to talk about the expectations and work ethic required to be a makeup artist. The other students were so kind, began to affirm her and reminded her that she could be whatever she wanted as long as she worked hard and used her strengths.
Niamey Thomas was part of Public Allies' Class 12. She was placed at Swift Youth Foundation as a Program Coordinator. Public Allies Arizona is a 10-month apprenticeship program designed to develop the next generation of civic leaders.
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