Diamonds are by far my favorite gem. There is something magical about the way they sparkle and how uniquely different they appear depending on the angle of the light. I am fascinated by the colors, the shapes, their astounding beauty, and the fact that no two diamonds are alike.
Diamond mining is a very intense process. So much goes into finding, and polishing them to the finished product we see when we stroll down Fifth Avenue and peek inside Harry Winston. This process is symbolic of the transformation Unleashed girls experience as they go through the program; which is why “Diamonds in the Ruff” is a perfect title for our anniversary event.
Each Unleashed group is a collection of diverse individuals; each with their own unique style, passion, interests (other than puppies of course), values, strengths and areas of development. Their spirit, energy and willingness to tackle anything to provide helpless pups with a voice is apparent from the onset.
When I look at middle school girls, I see possibility where others might see acting out, emotional, difficult teens. I see the opportunity to channel energy and passion when others might see the inability to stay focused. Girls this age test the waters continuously, push back, and challenge the status quo. This is a very ripe time to give them tools to be social activists; allowing them to be angry about an issue. This is a time to take the behaviors we see during this stage and give them an outlet to express their emotions in an appropriate way.
Why do I have so much passion for this age group? One, they are a misunderstood population. Our society has identified this group as “the mean girls” evidenced by the movies, television shows and many articles I see in the media. It is high time we start focusing on the positive aspects of middle school girls and truly understand the needs of girls at this critical juncture in life.
What I have come to realize is that there is a personal connection attached to this passion of mine. Looking back at my own teen age years, I was definitely a “Diamond in the ‘Ruff”. I was one of those feisty tweens who challenged everything and anything just for the sake of it. Opinionated, defiant, feisty and shirking dependence at all costs was how I could have easily been described by those around me. But, there was one person who looked deep below the surface to see there was so much more there beyond this defiant, rebellious teen. For me it was my father. He looked at me and saw a vivacious, passionate, smart girl who wanted to be unique and have a say in the world. He posed questions like “What will you do with all of this energy?” “What do you want to do in the world?” and validated my spirit by always remarking “You were meant to do something wonderful in your life time.” Rather than become frustrated, he laughed with me about my antics and the tricky situations I got myself into. But as I grew a little older, the words of wisdom become internalized as my own inner voice. I began believing that there was something out there waiting for me that was larger than who I was, and was intrigued by what that could be.
Each of us are a “Diamond in the Ruff” at some point in life. Development is our “mining” process, enabling us to shape who we are, polish the rough spots and define ourselves. We all start off with untapped resources and qualities that may not be so obvious to ourselves and others. Yet, when someone invests in us, the results are remarkable. This is my philosophy as I engage with all of our Unleashed teams. My commitment to each girl is to provide them with the freedom to explore and experiment, without judgment, in order for them to shine brilliantly-like a diamond. What sets the Unleashed girl apart is that she is priceless!