Imagine a space where young girls feel safe, free to express themselves, surrounded by love and support from both their peers and their mentors. Picture a place where young women are coached on how to bring their brightest self to the table, show up everyday radiating love, uplift their tribe, combat negativity, and ultimately…change the world. Through music education, creative expression, and performance, this is EXACTLY what Girls Rock Santa Barbara is doing.
Let the Girls Rock!
Therefore, we thought it would be pretty rad to interview Jen Baron, founder of Girls Rock SB (GRSB) for this months REBEL STORY. We wanted to get a deeper look inside one hella successful female empowerment brand and peruse the mind of the rebel that leads them. You’re probably wondering what Girls Rock is all about by now (or if you’re like me, you’ve already googled it - yeah girl, I see you!). Well...
Girls Rock Santa Barbara is an incredible opportunity disguised as an after school program and music camp that has set out to uplift and empower young girls through music education and development, creative expression, and performance (ummm…hello public speaking skills!). Their mission is to shift current girl culture and ideologies to be more collaborative and supportive, which also happens be a dearly-held core value here at Her Rebel Soul.
Behind the music
We also love that Girls Rock is a local-chapter of a global non-profit that touches the lives of young, developing women worldwide. What rocks even more? Jen’s chapter in Santa Barbara, which opened its doors and hearts eight years ago, happens to be the LARGEST out of 100. Go Santa Barbara and Go Jen!!!
We asked Jen what inspired her to launch the local chapter here,
“I think just being a woman and playing music since I was four...I wanted to create a program that focused on building girls up; try to change the myth that girls are competitive and help change girl culture to one that is supportive and uplifting instead of tearing each other down and competing. So I started to figure out the blueprint for what this looked like 8 years ago. There are about 100 Girls Rock programs around the world. They are all individual non-profits and Santa Barbara is the largest one in the world.”
So, how is she doing?
Kate, a parent with GRSB said that her daughter Emily’s, “confidence has skyrocketed…she has found a place full of people who celebrate her for who she is and the teenager she is becoming.”
While Chloe, 10 said, “as a girl, I like swimming against the current and being the opposite of what people assume a girl should be. I can be myself at Girls Rock SB all the time”. Others praised GRSB for the structure and impact teaching tolerance, team building, and leadership has had on their daughters.
Life lessons learned beyond the music
While female empowerment is their core mission, they are also doing amazing work with teaching tolerance and bridging cultural and racial gaps between their young students. Jen recalled a particularly moving experience from this summer when they teamed up with the Syrian community network out of San Diego to bring 15 Syrian refugee girls to their sleep-away camp this year. She informed us that in Syrian culture, girls typically don’t sleep outside their family home until they are married, so this camp was their first experience at a sleepover.
“This was an opportunity for them to step back and feel what it feels like to be 13 and have all these amazing mentors care for them and give them the support that they need. That week was particularly spectacular because we usually have kids from other countries but that week we had kids from Denmark, China, Russia and Mexico City. It was such an interesting group. There was a lot of sharing of different languages and traditions. It was just a microcosm of how I wish the world was. They were all just so loving and supportive of one another and just teaching each other about their differences and appreciating each other for what makes them unique.”
And now WE ROCK!
Her Rebel Soul’s very own badass photographer and partner, Carly Otness was invited to attend the GRSB end of week performance where she got to experience first-hand the magic of believing in someone. A few different girl bands performed like it was 1999 and it was impossible not to catch the infectious, high-vibing and supportive energy radiating from this group of empowered, educated, and talented young women.
Draped in Tees they made themselves, bands such as Rockin’ to the Core, Summer Girls and our personal favorite, Vampire Kittens performed one original song co-written over the course of a week. Which is truly inspirational - especially given many of the girls had never played their instrument before joining Girls Rock!
There was one case of pre-performance jitters, which was met with patience and support from all the campers and the audience alike. The lead singer finally emerged from backstage with the help of mom and dad where she performed from stage right. The experience was definitely a tear jerker as it was so clear how much self confidence, will-power, grit, and self-love it required. In the end, the girls were simply vibrating on stage and we believe it’s the work of strategic mentorships rooted in the values that flow through GRSB veins.
Redefining Girl Culture
It’s unfortunate that women live in a society so challenging to navigate and set up for failure. From a very young age, girls are bombarded with toxic materials that equate to messages that compare their value to the world with their physical appearance. As women, we are taught to be submissive and apologetic; having to literally teach ourselves differently. As our soul sister Amy Poehler once said, “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for.” AMEN BABE!!
From our Rebel Tribe to another, It was an ultimate pleasure! Meeting and interviewing Jen Baron as well as learning from all of the inspiring young women helped shape our experience at Girls Rock. The Babes of Badassery are forever grateful!
p.s. The work you are doing with young women to combat traditional girl culture is truly inspiring. Keep rocking (the stage, the speakers, the boat…) and teaching our future how to ignite their inner badasses. One day, these ladies will run the world!!
YOU DON’T NEED US TO TELL YOU - GIRLS ROCK!
Please checkout the Girls Rock Raise Her Voice video contest at http://www.girlsrocksb.org/raise-her-voice/ and join them on September 30th for the Raise Her Voice performance at the Lobero. I know we’ll be there! Rock on!
Join Our Tribe
Sign up to get exclusive promotions and inspiration!