Welcome to the I AM WHY Movement!

I Am Why workshops are a core methodology of our movement. The portrait and writing workshop is designed to increase participants’ individual and collective power and give voice to their visions for policy, practice and programs. The young woman in each portrait is a bold representation of her self-determination and vision.

We imagine an I Am Why movement that centers on our experiences as young women within systems and society – collaborating with others on a national scale, and building power with one another in our expertise. We envision a curriculum available anywhere and everywhere – to let the voices of young women and the values of I Am Why resonate across platforms. Being public allows us to broaden the circle of women and organizations with access to our philosophy and network. The curriculum is a guideline to getting youth involved in the larger movement.

The original I Am Why workshop curriculum created by Ebony Walcott, Lauren Adelman and Francine Sherman was developed to be a two-day intensive workshop. We have since conducted I Am Why workshops throughout the country as short as 1.5hrs and as long as two days.

Our web-based curriculum allows for simple navigation via a drop-down menu where you can do the following:

  • Create your workshop – Select elements of the workshop and tailor it to the needs of your population, while still staying true to the IAW values.
  • Personalize as needed – Whether you have a lot or a little time, a shoestring budget or flexibility in funding, there are workshop versions for every audience.
  • Follow your instincts – Remember, you know the group you are working with best.

This curriculum was created as a collaborative effort between artists, educators, researchers and young women leaders. As such, the curriculum is intentionally written with a collective voice. You are me. I am you. WE are why. By completing this curriculum, you become part of the network, part of the movement. We hope you find this curriculum helpful, and we appreciate any feedback. Welcome to the I Am Why movement.

In Solidarity,
Lauren Adelman, NY
Mel Harris, NC
Kazani Lole Kalani Finao, CA
Xochtil Larios, CA
Francine Sherman, MA
Ebony Walcott, NY

BUILDING YOUR I AM WHY WORKSHOP

In the following sections you’ll learn about how the I Am Why workshop unfolds. From what to consider when choosing facilitators to all the supplies and support you’ll need along the way, you’ll find everything necessary to get started on your I Am Why journey.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

As we begin this powerful and challenging undertaking, we need the right framework and tools to get started. Following are guidelines on the steps, supplies, and mindset necessary for a powerful workshop.

Facilitator
Supplies

Facilitators

As the guiding force of these workshops, facilitators play a critical role. Here are the key credentials in selecting facilitators:

  • One of the facilitators should be someone who has been through the system you are focusing on, or who is from the given community.
  • The facilitators should be well oriented in holding space when tensions can run high and people are feeling vulnerable.
  • Ideally, one of the facilitators would have previously participated in the workshop.
  • One facilitator should be an artist or art educator experienced in leading workshops.
  • One facilitator should be a writer or poet.

We are in the process of creating a system of online video assistance from our curriculum team of young women consultants. Reach out to us and we would be happy to work with you individually. 

​Safe space

The content of the I Am Why workshop can be triggering and a lot of deep issues may surface.  We have found it helpful to have a support person available for participants should they need some space or to speak with someone. Typically, that person is a part of the host program and is familiar with the participants.

Size of group

We have facilitated this workshop with groups of seven to groups of 75. The bigger the group, the smaller the curriculum size. We feel having a group of seven people or fewer with two to three facilitators is most effective, as this project requires a lot of individualized attention. Space is also a very important factor in creating the right physical environment within the community.

Compensation for participants

We strongly believe that people should be compensated for their time at the longer workshops. It has been a powerful moment in a workshop when we can say, “Everyone here is getting paid. I, as a facilitator, love this work and am inspired by it, but it is also my job. We want to recognize you all in the same way.” This sets the stage for participants to really feel respected and valued for their expertise and work.

Supplies

The supplies will depend on what you choose your curriculum to be. These are the supplies all programs will need:

  • Journals (contact I Am Why for special I Am Why journals, if available)
  • Pencils, markers (assorted colors), and either large Post-its, newsprint or dry erase board
  • A way to show past I Am Why examples. Website access is ideal, but printed images of examples are fine as well. (Contact I Am Why for postcards of past examples.)
  • Food – snacks for shorter workshops; breakfast and a warm lunch recommended for longer workshops

Create your curriculum by entering the customization tool. A virtual version has been added in response to COVID-19.

Facilitator

Facilitators

As the guiding force of these workshops, facilitators play a critical role. Here are the key credentials in selecting facilitators:

  • One of the facilitators should be someone who has been through the system you are focusing on, or who is from the given community.
  • The facilitators should be well oriented in holding space when tensions can run high and people are feeling vulnerable.
  • Ideally, one of the facilitators would have previously participated in the workshop.
  • One facilitator should be an artist or art educator experienced in leading workshops.
  • One facilitator should be a writer or poet.

We are in the process of creating a system of online video assistance from our curriculum team of young women consultants. Reach out to us and we would be happy to work with you individually. 

​Safe space

The content of the I Am Why workshop can be triggering and a lot of deep issues may surface.  We have found it helpful to have a support person available for participants should they need some space or to speak with someone. Typically, that person is a part of the host program and is familiar with the participants.

Size of group

We have facilitated this workshop with groups of seven to groups of 75. The bigger the group, the smaller the curriculum size. We feel having a group of seven people or fewer with two to three facilitators is most effective, as this project requires a lot of individualized attention. Space is also a very important factor in creating the right physical environment within the community.

Compensation for participants

We strongly believe that people should be compensated for their time at the longer workshops. It has been a powerful moment in a workshop when we can say, “Everyone here is getting paid. I, as a facilitator, love this work and am inspired by it, but it is also my job. We want to recognize you all in the same way.” This sets the stage for participants to really feel respected and valued for their expertise and work.

Supplies

Supplies

The supplies will depend on what you choose your curriculum to be. These are the supplies all programs will need:

  • Journals (contact I Am Why for special I Am Why journals, if available)
  • Pencils, markers (assorted colors), and either large Post-its, newsprint or dry erase board
  • A way to show past I Am Why examples. Website access is ideal, but printed images of examples are fine as well. (Contact I Am Why for postcards of past examples.)
  • Food – snacks for shorter workshops; breakfast and a warm lunch recommended for longer workshops