18 -year-old girl leader influences peers with support from YWCA of Minneapolis
In 2007, the just turned 14, Shawnnise Watkins came to the YWCA of Minneapolis, to complete the Girls Resolution and Prevention (RAP)—an all-girl youth intervention program for first-time offenders—in order to have a disorderly conduct offense removed from her record. Watkins had recently been in a fight that was serious enough for the police to get involved.
“At that time, Shawnnise was a strong, vibrant girl who stood up for herself and her friends and tried to solve all of her problems with a smart mouth and quick fists,” recalled Kyanna Wright a counselor at the YWCA of Minneapolis. “She didn’t like school and she wasn’t doing well at all. She felt all she ever heard was, ‘you’ll never be anything; you’ll never do anything.’ She even recalls a teacher telling her she was never going to make it. Shawnnise loved to write, but mostly kept her talents to herself and used her smarts outside the classroom.”