Once a girl becomes a member of Kamili Krew, her life changes instantly.
The organization first met in October 2018 at Fair Street International Academy in Gainesville after a group of teachers noticed the challenges facing their female students.
“We wanted to give them that supplemental support that you don’t always get in the instructional day,” Kerry-Ann Holmes, one of Kamili Krew’s directors said. “We provide support with emotional skills, mental skills and also their overall interaction with their peers.”
Holmes said the after-school program meets every other Thursday to encourage girls on a journey of personal growth and improvement.
The program in Gainesville was inspired by an older Kamili Krew group she noticed at a different school.
The name Kamili in Swahili means perfect self. The group proudly wears the colors pink and black as a symbol of their camaraderie.
“Pink and black is bold and when the girls see it they get empowered and excited,” Holmes said.
Currently the Kamili Krew at Fair Street has 26 active members. All of the teachers at Fair Street International recommended three girls per classroom to become a part of the program.
Holmes said the teachers identify their students’ specific needs, so the directors know which direction to take with the girls. Those chosen come into the program not knowing the process behind their selection.
During the first 15 minutes of the after-school program, the Kamili Krew girls work on their homework and receive snacks. The directors then will lead an hour-long session that focuses on a certain topic.
Holmes said sach lesson incorporates fun peer-bonding activities.
One of the most recent sessions involved acting out conflict resolution strategies. Separated by grade, each group was presented with a scenario that would relate to their current challenges.
The girls would spin a wheel and act out the randomly chosen resolution.
Some of the other sessions in Kamili Krew encompass self confidence, healthy living and etiquette.
Officer Maricela Del Rio and Cpl. Jessica Van, who work at the Gainesville Police Department, paid a visit to the Kamili Krew on Dec.13. The two encouraged the girls not to be afraid of pursuing their dream careers, no matter their gender.
“We wanted to show that women take positions that are typically dominated by men,” Van said. “These girls are so welcoming and inspiring.”
For the past couple of months Holmes said the directors already have witnessed significant growth among the girls.
Holmes said the exclusivity of the program bolsters the girls’ confidence and reassures them of their constant love and support.
Because of the strengthened relationships in Kamili Krew, the directors find that the girls are more likely to share their challenges.
“For me personally being a part of Kamili Krew, it gives me the connection with the girls on a much deeper level,” Holmes said. “It gives me the opportunity to know them personally even if they’re not in my classroom. You really get to connect with them in a holistic way.”
For those with questions about Kamili Krew, contact Holmes at email@example.com.