iThings 2 Collard Greens is collective of women and men who support developing the whole girl! – mind, body and spirit. Under the auspices of Arts for Our Children, Inc., the non-profit arm of the Davis Center, we have successfully offered summer programming since 2012 serving over 250 girls. Our enrichment camp and programming is geared for girls ages 5-13 and based in Washington, DC. Inspired by the teachings and work of Nannie Helen Burroughs, we uplift womanhood and instill Girl Power.
Our staff include community women who are professional in their respective careers. Mama Cheryl Shumake, an educator for over 30 years and fitness instructor, serves as camp director. Ms. Davis-Williams, the executive director for Arts for Our Children, Inc. is grant manager and manages the classical dance program. We have been blessed to be housed in her dance studio for the last 7 years. Baba Senghor Baye, a vegetarian for well over 30 years, serves as food handler, nutrition instructor, managing the free breakfast and lunch program and maintaining the facilities. Mama Kathy, a minister, massage and energy therapist, performing artist and founder, coordinates the health and hygiene programming. She also facilitates the morning and afternoon circles leading girls in meditation, altar building, affirmation and circle discussions.
Our music instructors have included professional vocalists and instrumentalists in the area including Cheryl Jones and Free Benjamin. Our knitting instructor, Joyce Pegues, is a retired scientist and avid knitter. Sewing instructor, Frances Coles and Rose Swain, another seamstress handle sewing and arts and crafts. Dine Watson, poet, and member of More than a Drum Ensemble, teaches poetry to the older girls. African dance is taught by Valencia Barclift of Melvin Deale African Heritage Dancers and Drummers and classical/ballet/hip-hop dance by Ms. Davis-Williams and Davis Center graduate, Imani Bowman. Last year, yoga was taught by Princess Thompson. The late Rev Zuri Nia and Ama Lee have been yoga instructors in previous years. Gardening instruction has been led by Kaifa Hall and Charles Lloyd. Writing classes have included Pam Bryant and Pat Wheeler. Numerous other instructors and volunteers have supported us over the years from financial workshops to cooking classes.
Our summer youth counselors come courtesy of the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program. Counselors range from age 14 to 21. Summer 2017 we were blessed to have 2 previous campers return as counselors and we always have counselors return from previous years. We are very selective about our counselors, seeking young people who truly delight in working with children. One of our former campers, Cecelia Whettstone, presently a student at Oberlin College, matriculated from camper to counselor and this year supported us with teaching poetry to the younger girls.
The safe space we create for staff and girls has made it a place where people return year after year.