March 22, 2017
Mini Message from Dani Dazey:
When Sand Sisters reached out to me, I was instantly excited to work with them on a Dazey Lady feature! Tedi and Sonya, real-life sisters, created a Los Angeles based non-profit group aimed at empowering youth through rad, engaging activities all around the city! I love the message behind Sand Sisters and how inlined they are with our mission over here at Dazey, so it was the perfect opportunity to have them over to Dazey HQ to share their story with our Dazey Ladies!
Find Sand Sisters:
I have never been more proud to be a strong woman.
I have never been more proud to be my own boss.
I have never been more proud of the supportive group of women around me.
I have never been more proud to empower others and make them feel valued and loved.
Women of today across every race are still seeking equality by lawmakers, in the workplace and in social situations. Human rights and women empowerment marches, rallies, marketing campaigns, inspiring artists performances and installations, Girl Boss hashtags and social awareness are supporting this movement. We’ve all seen it and hopefully been a part of it in some way. Standing together, we’ve proved that our voices must be heard in a powerful yet peaceful way. Through it all, the quote that resonated with me the most during my daily instagram scroll was, “Be who you needed when you were younger.”
Oh, to flashback to childhood can either be a delightful experience or one you want to shut the door on. For me it was a mixture of both. My sister, Tedi, and I grew up as best friends. We are as close as two siblings can be and that is because we grew up depending on one another. Our single mother worked tirelessly to make sure we had the best upbringing. On school nights, 9:00pm was a standard time for me to see the light from the hallway spill into my room and then I’d feel my mother’s kiss on my forehead. My mom made sure Tedi and I had everything we needed, but what I always felt what was missing was the feeling of being seen and valued.
Tedi and I jumped into the roles of being “independent” and “adult” by the age of 12. We lined up neighborhood babysitting gigs for $4 an hour, worked countless holiday retail jobs, coached the swim team, worked on campus college jobs --- you name it, we did it --- and we had the lives we did because of two things, we believed in ourselves and we hustled.
Through all of our experiences we immersed ourselves in, we formed relationships with strong women in our community. We sought out mentors without realizing what we were seeking. My first mentor was my 3rd grade teacher, Miss M. She took the extra time out of her day to make me feel seen. She would let me read to the class every week (my favorite thing to do), invited me to church with her and her mother and sent weekly letters through the school post office years after I'd left her classroom. She was the first person to really see me and hear me without having to tell her a thing.
Tedi’s first mentor was her 5th grade teacher Mrs. McCune. She was an adventurous woman who would spend summers with her husband white river rafting in Colorado and bring back thrilling stories and pictures for her students. Mrs. McCune showed Tedi that there's a whole world to explore --- new people, unbelieveable cultures, delicious (and scary) food and other beliefs than what we were brought up to hold true. She saw Tedi’s desire for a colorful life. From elementary school on we met with so many wonderful women, who taught us life lessons, showered us with love and made us feel valued.
Fast forward to two sisters, post college living in Los Angeles, we were both young professionals, Tedi in elementary education and myself in advertising. Tedi began to take girls to the beach during the summer months. She taught the girls to connect with the ocean, surf, stand up paddle board and form friendships. In one summer the girls blossomed. They gained confidence, became strong water women and started a sisterhood.
After that summer I jumped on board and we grew to become Sand Sisters Los Angeles, a youth empowerment nonprofit taught as extended education in after school programs and of course, our beloved summer beach camp. Our 10 week program is designed to give children the tools to love themselves. It seems so easy to teach, yet it is something people spend their whole lives trying to do --- accept themselves, love themselves and care for themselves.
The success of our growing nonprofit is because of our authenticity for why we mentor children. We know what it’s like to need a strong female mentor in our lives who sees us for the individual that we are. We show up for the girls. We fill the room with love and laughter. We dance and sing. We hug and love. We create a positive space where the girls feel safe. And most importantly the girls learn that the best part about themselves are the parts that are unlike any other - confident, strong, smart and one-of-a-kind.. Our path led us to be the mentors we needed when we were younger.
Our program has been offered as extended education in over 15 independent schools and is a part of the CREST Enrichment Program, enrolling over 500 students in the Los Angeles area to date. We are spreading to New York City in the Fall and plan on taking over the nation in 2018. Check us out at www.sandsistersla.com and follow our story @sandsistersla. Connect with us as we are always looking for donors, volunteers, interns and partnerships.
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