The philanthropist, and wife to comedian Steve Harvey, recently hosted the 2nd annual “Girls Who Rule the World” mentoring weekend in Atlanta where 100 girls, ages 13-18 spent two days getting sisterly advice from the likes of Soledad O’Brien and on everything from self-esteem to avoiding peer pressure.
ESSENCE.com: Why do you choose 100 girls to mentor each year?
MARJORIE HARVEY: The reason I choose 100 girls is any more than it’s harder to give them the kind of attention that they really need. Many more girls apply but it’s unfortunate because we can’t take all of them. My vision is to expand the weekend all around the United States, even to other countries.
ESSENCE.com: Why do you think it’s important to mentor young girls?
MARJORIE: I believe in the idea that it takes a village to raise children. And like I said to the adults during the mentoring weekend, ‘The village is in trouble. And I need all hands on deck.’ In my eyes, we’ve really failed this generation, and it’s time to step up and do damage control to help these children be able to navigate through the pressures and mistakes they make. And if they haven’t made mistakes, we don’t want them to make them. When you know better, you do better.
I tell the girls, ‘y’all are the prize. Please stop giving your power away. Set the bar high.’ If these young boys want you, then guess what, let him rise to the occasion.
ESSENCE.com: What are some of the issues you tackle during the mentoring weekend?
MARJORIE: We have to talk to them about everything, from sexual conduct to their schoolwork, peer pressure, picking their friends. And also getting them to understand, ‘you’re beautiful just the way God made you. You don’t have to worry about the images portrayed in the media of what the beautiful woman is. Social media is a big one too. We asked how many girls sent nude photos of themselves and I cannot tell you how many hands went up. We tried to get them to understand the benefits of monitoring themselves on social media.
ESSENCE.com: These kind of messages need to be said over and over in order for them to be effective. How do you keep track of the girls’ progress?
MARJORIE: That’s the reason we created a program instead of an event. I’m following my girls. We pair our girls with mentors, because things have to be constantly reinforced.
ESSENCE.com: What’s your takeaway from this year’s mentoring weekend?
MARJORIE: It was absolutely amazing. I had little girls tell me they felt like Cinderella. It was life changing for them, but it was also life changing for us as adults see it. When you see a little girl’s light bulb go off, you go, ‘wow, that’s what it’s all about.’
Click here for more info on the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Girls.