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Case #882

Girl Gang Banger Turns Into Girl Savior


Summary: At the age of 13, Isis was the rebellious daughter of a single mother, a social worker who kept a home where academic proficiency was expected and achieved. But Isis was hungry for attention, the kind of attention that over 66,000 kids in big cities and small towns all across America find by joining high school gangs. In high school, Isis discovered that the crazier she acted, the more popular she became. It wasn't long before she caught the eye and won the heart of the leader of the "Decepticons," a guy gang that took its nicknames and codes from the "Transformers, a popular children's cartoon. Isis soon founded herself the leader of its sister gang, the "Deceptinettes." By her senior year, Isis had gained a larger-than-life reputation as the toughest girl gang leader in New York City. Isis recalls the feelings of power she enjoyed as the leader of 70 girls.

It took real courage for Isis to leave the world of the gangs. She needed the protection of a local police officer, who she first met when he arrested her. She studied magazines to figure out how non-gang members dressed. Committed teachers help her get into college in faraway Tennessee. But she didn't turn her back on where she came from or the girls she knew.

Today, Isis is a clinical social worker and founder of the "Youth Empowerment Mission" in Brooklyn. By teaching self-esteem, survival skills and alternative ways to feel powerful, Isis's "Blossom Program" helps at-risk and court-appointed teenage girls learn how to quit or stay away from gangs.


THE STRATEGY: When Isis was ready to change from her gang defined life, she found the kind of mentoring help (a local police officer and teachers) she needed. She supplemented this with her own reading and the wise decision to physically separate herself from her old stomping grounds until she could build a new set of options for herself. She then could use her personal experience to help other young women make effective breaks from the city gang lives they were involved in.

WHAT WORKS: The strategies: Every day, Isis brings 25 girls into her simple room in the local church to for rap sessions and activities. She works with each reluctant girl individually, and shows them how she changed her life. In the evenings, Isis visits housing projects, subways and individual homes, speaking with parents about their daughters, identifying other at-risk teens and looking for girls that dropped out of the program.

IMPORTANT POINTS: Through family and community support, Isis managed to save her own life. Through her work, Isis hopes to rescue other girls who fall for the danger and power of gangs, and to inspire them to turn their lives around before it's too late.
Location: New York City, US
Setting: Developed World, Urban
Extent of Action: Local
Outcome successful
Source: www.bioneers.org/features/heros.html


www.girlsblossom.org, youth empowerment mission.org
Prepared By: sl, 1/09
Rating: 1
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