Friday, February 23, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Black Joy Parade

As we near the end of Black History Month, let’s wrap it up with a celebration! Today’s Feel Good Friday organization is Black Joy Parade.

Founded in 2018, Black Joy Parade is “a hyper-positive non-profit based in Oakland, CA that celebrates the Black experience and community's contribution to history and culture with its signature parade and celebration, partnerships and events.”

Founder Elisha Greenwell and co-founder Amber Lester wanted “Oakland to become a destination for Black joy” where people could gather to celebrate Black culture and community. That’s where the idea of the parade began. Led entirely by volunteers, the team behind the Black Joy Parade organization partnered with community leaders and icons to create and produce the first Black Joy Parade in 2018. The parade is free to attend and support to produce it comes from grants, donations and sponsorships. 

As they explain on their website, “The Black Joy Parade exists to provide the Black community and allies a live experience that celebrates our influence on cultures past, present and future. We will unite a diverse community by creating a space to express each of our unique contributions to the Black experience. We invite you to be creative, be open, be present, be free.” Having attended several of the parades, I can confirm it is a very fun and joyful event.

This year’s Black Joy Parade is happening on Sunday, February 25th. Yes, that’s this weekend! It starts at 12:30pm in downtown Oakland, and runs along Franklin St. from 14th St. to 19th St. If you live in the Bay Area, come on over and enjoy the parade in person! If you’re not able to attend you can watch this 12-minute documentary to hear from the founders and volunteers as well as see footage from past parades.

In addition to the parade, the organization Black Joy Parade holds year round events such as financial literacy classes, a wine festival, and comedy shows. Check the events page for details and tickets.

If you want to help spread positivity and joy in Oakland, support Black Joy Parade. You can shop for merch, make a donation and amplify their message on social media. Follow Black Joy Parade on Facebook and on Instagram @blackjoyparade.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Black Mamas Matter Alliance

For today’s Black History Month Feel Good Friday, we’re turning our attention to an organization that supports Black mothers, Black Mamas Matter Alliance.

Founded in 2021 and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) is “a Black women-led cross-sectoral alliance that centers Black mamas and birthing people to advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice.” Their vision is “a world where Black mamas have the rights, respect, and resources to thrive before, during, and after pregnancy.”

The Centers for Disease Control has found that “Black women are at least three times more likely to die due to a pregnancy-related cause when compared to White women.” These deaths are preventable and BMMA is addressing this with a national network of Black women-led organizations and multi-disciplinary professionals whose work is deeply rooted in reproductive justice, birth justice, and human rights frameworks. 

Examples of the work being done by BMMA include: introducing policy that addresses Black maternal health inequity and improves Black maternal health outcomes; providing technical assistance, training, and capacity building for grassroots organizations, maternity care service providers, academia, and the public health industry; and supporting more effective collaboration of stakeholders working to advance Black maternal health.

One big initiative of BMMA is Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW), a week-long campaign to build awareness, activism, and community-building to amplify the voices, perspectives and lived experiences of Black Mamas and birthing people. It takes place every year from April 11 to 17 and this year’s theme is “Our Bodies STILL Belong to Us: Reproductive Justice NOW!” To learn more register for the national call on February 26 at 1:00pm Eastern. You’ll hear about the purpose of BMHW and get highlights of all the major activities happening online and across the nation in celebration of Black Mamas!

If you want to help BMMA ensure that Black mamas thrive before, during, and after pregnancy, you can do that by making a donation and amplifying their message on social media. Like the Black Mamas Matter Alliance Facebook page, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and follow them on Instagram @blackmamasmatter.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Feel Good Friday - The Valentine Project

Valentine’s Day is next week and if you’re looking for a unique way to celebrate the holiday, consider The Valentine Project.

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Danville, Kentucky, the goal of The Valentine project is “for all children whose lives are affected by cancer or a chronic illness to feel special and loved each Valentine’s Day, and to cultivate compassion year-round through offering volunteer opportunities that bring out the love and kindness in us all.”

Founders, and siblings, Gregory and Michaela Margida started The Valentine Project because they knew families dealing with cancer or chronic illness can often feel isolated and stigmatized. They wanted to “spread love, hope, and joy by sending packages brimming with loads of love and smiles, zero stigma attached.”

Children up to 21 years old are eligible to participate in the program and can register to receive a personalized package on Valentine’s Day. Siblings are also included in the outreach! Currently, packages are being sent to eligible children in Kentucky, Ohio and California.

In addition to the packages, The Valentine Project runs a program called Kindness Cards. Created by volunteers like you, Kindness Cards are meant to serve as a break from health concerns and their main purpose is to add an unexpected burst of love when least expected. It starts with you making or buying some cards, writing a fun message or joke, and sending them to The Valentine Project. They’ll take care of personalizing, addressing and mailing the cards to kids throughout the United States. Unlike the packages, Kindness Cards are sent out all year long. If you know a child who would like to receive a Kindness Card, you can sign them up here

Since they began, The Valentine Project has worked with over 9,000 volunteers to send 7,187 Valentine’s packages and 721 Kindness Cards. That’s a lot to love!

If you’re ready to become someone’s Valentine this year, you can use the Valentine Matching System to find a child to support. You can also make some Kindness Cards, visit The Valentine Project’s Amazon Wish List to buy supplies for their packages or make a donation.

As always, help get the word out about The Valentine Project on social media. Follow them on Facebook and on Instagram @the_valentine_project. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Friday, February 2, 2024

Feel Good Friday - GirlTREK

It’s the first Feel Good Friday of Black History Month so let’s talk about an organization that helps Black women find health, justice and joy by walking, GirlTREK.

Founded in 2010 by T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, and headquartered in Washington, D.C., GirlTREK is “the largest health movement and nonprofit organization for Black women and girls in the U.S.” They encourage Black women to walk 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, because they believe it is “a radical act of self-love and the root of a cultural revolution.”

Statics provided on the GirlTREK website, show that Black women have a life expectancy that is 5-10 years behind other racial groups. In addition, 81% of Black women are overweight, 52% are obese and they are 20% less likely to engage in physical activity. This leads to Black women  in the United States dying from heart disease at the rate of 137 women each day.

The women behind GirlTREK knew that walking helps women improve their health, inspire their daughters and reclaim their neighborhoods. They found that “as women organize walking teams, they also mobilize community members to support advocacy efforts and lead a Civil Rights-inspired health movement.” Watch this 3-minute video to learn more.

Since they began 14 years ago, over 1.3 million women have taken the GirlTREK pledge to start walking and their results are impressive. 90% of women reported fewer symptoms of depression after joining GirlTREK. 61% reported losing weight and 56% sustained 5 days or more of walking for one year or more. Motivated by the success stories GirlTREK’s new goal is to increase the life expectancy of Black women by 10 years in 10 years.

If you’re ready to take steps towards a healthier you (pun 100% intended), search this page to find a GirlTREK group in your area. You can also sign up for a walking challenge, like a Jumpstart (walk 21/30 days) or Warrior Week (walk 5/7 days). Once you’ve finished the challenge, you’ll be eligible to claim your victory and collect prizes such as golden shoelaces or a GirlTREK t-shirt. If you can’t wait that long to represent, you can always shop for your swag.

Other ways to support GirlTREK are with a donation and by amplifying their message on social media. Like the GirlTREK Facebook page follow them on Instagram @girltrek. Now that you’re finished reading, why not go out for a walk?