Women Working To Do Good WWTDG: Amanda Ebokosia Alessandra Rizzotti

You would never know that Amanda Ebokosia was a shy girl growing up, always a part of organizations in high school, though not the one to be in charge.  In fact, speaking to Amanda, you would become so enamored by her strength and passion that you could see her becoming President of the United States.  Amanda will say that she became a leader “by accident,” because at only nineteen, while studying biology and psychology at Rutgers University, she found out that her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Wanting to inform others with relatives or friends in the same condition, she quickly arranged the “Traveling Awareness Exhibit” and wrote a beautiful poem to cope with her concerns about her mother:

A photo shoot that brought young students together to pose with foam boards that had facts about breast cancer, the “Traveling Awareness Exhibit” quickly expanded into The Gem Project, where more issues that concerned Amanda were included, and more programs and initiatives were formed.

Tia from Howard University in the "Traveling Awareness Exhibit" (Photo by Rob Haig)

The motto behind The Gem Project is “Captivate to Educate”.  With it, Amanda inspires, assists, and provides tools for school-age youth to take action and carry out programs about community affairs and youth issues that matter to them.  One issue that particularly concerned Amanda in the beginning stages was autism, inspired by her own brother’s experience with it, as well as several mothers she had met who had been raising autistic children on their own.  The “Autism Quote Initiative” was founded in 2008 and with a team that Amanda formed, and a quilt of puzzle pieces was constructed as a symbol of hope and awareness to families with autistic children.

The Autism Quilt by The Gem Project

The Gem Project used autism as a theme in the Interactive Literacy Program, where volunteers travel to libraries in different communities and combat illiteracy through the use of different themes, such as public speaking, culture, mentoring, and empowerment.  Children age four to twelve participate, working on their reading and writing.

The Interactive Literacy Program

Amanda hopes to expand The Gem Project across the nation with a standard lesson plan for the Interactive Literacy Program, as well as College Campus Marches that are organized to make change for issues that students care about.  What’s so inspiring about this project is that Amanda puts the reigns in everyone’s hands, nurturing and empowering them to organize where they see fit.

College Campus March

The Gem Project’s newest “traveling photo exhibit” is the “Define Real Beauty” campaign, which celebrates women in all forms, shapes and sizes. See photos by MG Oania below…

"Define Real Beauty" Campaign

"Define Real Beauty" Campaign

 

What started off as a therapeutic approach to coping with her mother’s illness became a way for Amanda to meet people and develop a team that now combats a wide variety of issues.  Amanda says the team of volunteers she works with “probably wouldn’t have crossed paths if it weren’t for The Gem Project” because they are all so different and all have completely different schedules (one is an accountant, another is a flight attendant, for example).  But, what’s so amazing about The Gem Project, is that it brings people together.  Amanda says all the members and volunteers may be “transitioning in life [but they are] concentrating on their similarities [to] move mountains.”

The Gem Project Volunteers trying to form a "G" for "GemWhen people want to get involved in The Gem Project, Amanda first asks them what they're passionate about, then sees how she can utilize their passion to create a program that will help the volunteer fulfill his/her goals and dreams. She thinks that "if someone believes in you, there's a reason to believe in yourself, because they're banking on you to make it." She wants to be a part of helping people believe in themselves and she's doing an incredible job of it.

 

Follow The Gem Project HERE and Facebook them HERE.  Most importantly, get involved and start your own program through The Gem Project HERE.  Your internet love will help spread awareness and you yourself can become an advocate for change!”

 

 

Women Working to Do Good is a series that Hello Giggles and the White House have been collaborating on. We will bring you stories of women in communities across the United States who we think are stars in their own right. Whether they are young entrepreneurs, active community organizers, or making a difference in a single life or community, we think these women are amazing and want to share their stories with you! Each story will also be featured on the White House blog, and we are working together to bring more strong female role models to the forefront.

If there is a woman in your community who you think should be honored in this series, email us at wwtdg@hellogiggles.com!

 

Photos courtesy of Amanda Ebokosia and The Gem Project. Quotes/interview material provided by Julia Gazdag.

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  1. Wow thank you. I would be honored!

  2. Thanks Alessandra, I just read more of your site and BIO. You have a great story yourself. I would like to promote and share your work through my newsletter, if you don’t mind next week. KIT

  3. You are an amazing woman!!! And all the people involved in The Gem Project are amazing too!

  4. Alessandra, this article is beautifully written. Thank you so much for featuring us. Julia, thank for the amazing interview. You know how to make anyone open up:)
    Ladies, cheers! Thank you on the behalf of my entire team at the Gem Project, Inc. <3 you all HelloGiggles!!

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