What is the Summer Leadership Academy

The annual summer leadership academy (SLA) is an essential component of WGI’s Education and Leadership Intervention offering a holistic approach to girls’ empowerment. We fuse leadership training with art-therapy combined with psychosocial support and counseling to transform gender issues and post disaster trauma and stress faced by adolescent girls and young women while promoting personal growth and academic success, individually and collectively. The pursued goal is to continue building the leadership abilities of our adolescent girls and young women while enhancing their mental wellbeing in the face of pervasive violence, discrimination and abuse, family or disaster related trauma, living environment in neighborhoods that are dangerous, socio-economic hardships, abject poverty etc. We aim to empower our girls with the knowledge to thrive amid realities that are threatening their lives. We’re equipping them with techniques and tools that bestow upon them resilience and confidence to achieve their potential and dreams.


This year, our 10 day Academy brought together 40+ adolescent girls and young women, age 15-21, all beneficiaries of our initiative. The SLA workshops have established a safe space where they can express themselves through theater, literature, and visual arts, to heal trauma from post-disasters and conflicts. The art therapy approach aims to :

  1. Identify and confront trauma

  2. Empower adolescent girls to move away from the victim state and acknowledge their self-worth

  3. Give them the tools to regain power over their lives and place in society

These objectives are achieved through individual and group activities, fostering self-reflection as well as improved interpersonal communication.

The 2019 Summer Leadership Academy Curriculum

I - Gender Equality, Human Rights and Female Empowerment : Where Are We AT in 2019?

In countries like Haiti, gender disparities are still rampant : gender-based violence, discrimination and abuses are widespread and have become a systemic problem throughout the country. Women and girls in Haiti have been constantly suffered abysmal human rights violations. The objectives of this workshop are to offer a safe space to our beneficiaries to discuses the key human rights violations affecting them in 2019 and to spur in-depth conversations about strategies necessary to effect individual and collective change (by raising awareness and encouraging knowledge and skill building) and create an inclusive society.

Session 1 : Human Rights and Gender Violence - What is at Stake Transforming International Law into Local Justice in Haiti? And What’s Response to the Impunity for Violence Against Women and Girls that is Rampant Today in Haiti?

Session 2 : Look Within - Analyzing the Relationship Between Masculinity and Violence Against Women and Girls in Haiti

II - CREATIVE AND PERFORMING ARTS : writing, drawing and dance workshops

In our quest to utilize Art Therapy creatively for self-expression, self-exploration and healing, we use a mix of art forms that include: painting, drawing, music and dance as therapeutic tools enabling our girls to pursue healing and harmony in lives.



Building on the results of the 2018 SLA’s writing workshop through which great talents were discovered, we wanted to further develop our girls’ creativity and academic writing skills by encouraging them to write their opinions and stories on many issues affecting our society and lives by articulating their thoughts and feelings as a way to reduce stress and promote wellbeing. The opportunity to learn these skills and techniques from Melissa Beralus, an emerging 24 year old Haitian writer who was a blast.   

Activity 1 : Poetry: Teach our girls various forms of poetry with a focus on: Haiku, Acrostic, Picture Poetry, Free Verse. 

 A “poetry slam” was included in our last day performance. This activity boost confidence while creating a safe environment for sharing personal feelings and aspirations. 

Activity 2 : Heroine Books, promoting self-expression, internal reflection and empowerment.

 Our Girls receive guidance to compose a story in which they themselves are the main heroines and their life is the adventure. Writing a heroine book gives to our girls the opportunity to think in a different way about the hopes, goals, opportunities, and challenges in their lives. Heroine books also provide a safe space in which to imagine tactics and strategies for overcoming challenges and obstacles. 



Coralie is an Artist at heart and a Senior Development Officer at Zanmi Lasante (ZL) in Haiti. She loves painting, writing poetry and exploring art therapy techniques with at-risk youth. Her teaching methodology explores how to foster self-love, introspection, and manage stress in their daily lives. At the end, girls feel empowered to make positive changes for themselves and society.

During her 3 day workshop, our girls acquired meditation tools and produced self-portraits and a collective art projects.

Activity 1 : Personal Strength Portraits This activity promoted personal power and attitude, self-talk, compassion and self-love. Through individual portraits each girl Identified their personal strengths and talents.

Activity 2 : Creating a Safe Space Collage This activity allowed the girls to produce drawings of what a safe space looks like. The girls visualized and reflected on what makes them feel safe - an everyday reminder of what a safe place looks and feels like.



Rhoda Moise is a candidate for the Ph.D. in Prevention Science and Community Health at University of Miami. She is also a dancer from the Nancy St. Leger (NSL) Danse Ensemble, a performance collective dedicated to the preservation of authentic Haitian folkloric dance. Their mission is to deliver life-affirming inspiring dance experiences to audiences worldwide and, through education and outreach programs, to sustain an appreciation for the art form. NSL specializes in traditional Haitian dances including: wongol, mayi, zarinye, zepol, parigol, nago, petro, and banda.

Activity 1 : Yanvalou This dance form is recognized for its distinct undulation movements, expresses community and solidarity. The energy transmitted by yanvalou includes hope and life. Yanvalou, a style originating from Benin, is a visual representation of the natural rising and falling of life. Through processing our anger (falling) we may begin to release it and transform it into uplifting vitality (rising). This dance style was learned with the heart Chakra Yoga method, a back to back stand up from the ground in partners - learning the importance of supporting each other for success.

Activity 2 : Igbo With roots from Nigeria, Igbo carries a flavor of freedom. Through bold movements, igbo represents the breaking of chains of slavery which may be applied to any other oppressive forces in life. The infamous phrase ‘give me liberty of give me death’ embodies the spirit of igbo. Through the igbo dance all problems become solved as we achieve liberty. This dance style was learned with sacral chakra Yoga method- small group arm detangle exercise without talking (with eye close for more challenge) - learning the importance of creativity and knowing thyself to work as a group.

Activity 3 : Rara Release of pain brings joy, as seen in the dance style rara. In times of slavery, rara would serve as a communal activity bringing pleasure to close the end of a day spent enduring suffering. Furthermore, at the dawn of independence, Haitians flooded the streets to celebrate their newfound, formal freedom. In modern times, rara is still a celebratory dance seen in festivals all over the world with high energetic movements and smiles. This dance style was learned with the third eye chakra yoga method - fall of trust with group supporting and catching each individual - learning intuition and understanding within self and group dynamics.

III - Health and Wellness

Optimal health can be achieved only when physical, emotional and mental health needs are addressed altogether. The perceptions of health and wellness goes beyond ensuring physical health, it is about the overall quality of life and achieving positive change to one’s social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, intellectual and physical wellness. Our objectives are to enhance health knowledge and equip our girls with tools and techniques to maintain higher standards in self-care, health and wellness.

Session 1 : Sexual Health and Violence - Rape and Sexual Abuse

Session 2 : Mental Health Awareness - Anxiety and Stress Management

Session 3 : Self-Care through Mindfulness, Yoga and Meditation

Session 4 : Sexual Health - Gender and HIV Prevention