Female Leadership Community at Ocean Academy in Caye Caulker, Belize

The Ocean Academy Female Leadership community (FLC) is an elective enrichment program that empowers young women to strengthen their leadership skills, while experiencing growth and identity development through the power of sharing, teamwork, and earned success.

Encourage them in becoming a strong, fierce, and empowered woman! A leader for their community! Working with other young women to create a unique community entirely dedicated to their needs.

The FLC is conducted around 3 units: ignite, educate and agitate.

Ignite: Create community through safe space creation, sharing of stories, empowerment rituals, and sistahood.

Educate: Empower young peoples’ minds through the exploration of the unique issues affecting young women today through reading, researching, and journaling.

Agitate: Become empowered leaders through the development of a community-based action project that will ignite and educate other youth and/or the larger community, and share the values of the FLC community.



 The Female Leadership Community (FLC) of Ocean Academy High school concluded a workshop about Dreams & Goals, Abundance and Intuition with the ultimate challenge:
To TRUST – in our ourselves by doing something we had never done before.

After we completed our TRUST challenge I asked:

Do you trust your own self when exploring something new?

  • at first I tend to say negative things because I’m afraid – but within minutes I regret saying it and I’ll it a try
  • I trust myself a little bit, but I have to think hard before I can do it
  • I don’t really trust myself … which makes me turn away from challenging things
  • I want to. I often find myself exploring new things, even if I don’t trust myself completely

How did you like Stand Up Paddle boarding?

  • I like SUP, because it made me face a challenge
  • I’m not sure if I liked it
  • I really like SUP, it was something I had never done in my life and I would love to try it again someday
  • I really liked it, it’s fun, it’s something new that interests me – by the way you have to put yourself to balance on the board.
Contour Ocean Ventures  (owners Henry & Stefanie Lopez )  made this possible with their sponsorship for an afternoon of Stand-Up Paddle boarding, including a boat trip to our starting location, cold water and of course all the equipment to SUP.

Thank you so much!

During the month of April we had volunteer CARLA BEHARRY back for our FLC sessions.
After spending many weeks on defining and discussing dreams & goals – now, with Carla we started to explore abundance, intuition and trust.

Cheyenne’s definition of dreams: what you want to be in the future
and of goals: set your mind on doing something … like graduate.

To Kyra abundance means: plentiful, gaining more, to achieve a lot, prosperity, being generous, be thriving and to create goodness in your life.

For Xena intuition means: to follow your own mind and go with your heart.

I’sha says about trust: I have a little bit of trust and confidence in every person. Trust is to believe in someone that they will take care of you.

We read a beautiful poem about intuition:

The Voice

There is a voice inside of you

That whispers all day long,

I feel this is right for me, I know that this is wrong.
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend

Or wise man can decide

What's right for you--just listen to

The voice that speaks inside.


FLC group attended the 8th Annual Women’s Summit

 Shania’s take on the women’s summit:

My favorite part of today is the Gender presentation by Ms. Jenny Lovell. Her presentation talks about the working rolls placed on a child based on gender. I personally have been reviewing work based on gender. I support her stand to break the stigma of traditional gender roles for boys and girls and I realize that boys and girls are able to do the same kind of work. There is not really a job that is gender specific. Parents must start to instill in their children that no matter the age or gender, you can do both – a male or a female job traditionally speaking.

 Cheyenne’s take on the women’s summit:

My favorite part of the 8th Annual Women’s summit is the topic Gender Equality and Sexual Harassment in the workplace. I love these topics therefore I want to learn more and share information about them.

Today I learned that sexual harassment happens everywhere and anytime. Women, youth and even children have been sexually harassed. Sexual harassment is one of the top rated problems worldwide, also here in the streets of Belize. Men and boys don’t have any respect for young girls that pass by on the road. I agree with the discussions and the presentations by these women here today, the advice they shared and their personal stories they also shared with us.
I’m enjoying their speech!
There is little we can do about sexual harassment – yet. It’s not legal here in Belize, it can be reported to the police station, but then things might get even worse.

 I’sha’s take on the women’s summit:

The best part of the day for me was Ms. Jenny’s take on gender socialization. She brought out the depths of it and explained it with great examples.

I also loved the poem written and presented by Kyraan Gabourel.

Today was one of the best days in my life and I hope I can come back next year for the 9th annual women’s summit. Today I learned about things that I never knew or heard of before.

I think the theme of the summit was very good:
‘The gender agenda: gaining momentum’

 Xena’s take on the women’s summit:

My favorite part of the day was the issue of sexual harassment. Michelle Irving provided us with real events that currently take place in the Belizean society. Women and many teens are being targeted and recruited by men. Not only physically, but verbally with filthy phrases. The information, Ms. Michelle gave us was very interesting. We need to uplift a woman’s right to where we can be respected and approached in a mannerly way.
We – the young generation – need to become more active in dealing with the problem of sexual harassment.

 Kyra’s take on the women’s summit:

I think the most important words said today are:
‘What is gender’? I believe that many people don’t know the difference between sex and gender. I loved Ms. Jenny’s topic: ‘ Impact of socialization on children through the life cycle’.
She explained how parents and others classify how boys and girls should be.

Also the discussion about sexual harassment was very interesting.
Sexual harassment is a big issue countrywide and many teens and women have been the controversial issue. Some women have filed several complaints, but they have not been settled yet. A comment from the social worker from the University of Belize has grasped my attention. She spoke about doing a parade in April against sexual harassment in the streets of Belize. She is planning a parade where women will wear white T-shirts and design them with a logo like: ‘ My name is Kyra – I’m not your baby’.

I really enjoyed the summit. All the speakers inspired me, especially Ms. Jenny. This was a great experience.

The gender agenda

FLC group attended the 8th Annual Women’s Summit

On March 21st the FLC group attended the 8th Annual Women’s Summit at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City, funded with our community grant from Full Basket Belize.
And we had the best day ever.
The topic - ‘The Gender Agenda – Gaining Momentum’

The 1st panel:
What the heck is gender?
  • Gender 101
  • Impact of socialization on children through the life cycle
  • Socializing children
The 2nd panel:
Oh, no they didn’t    he can’t, she can’t!
  • Building and designing Belize
  • Playing the male role
  • My experience in nursing
Panel 3:
Let’s keep going!
  • Gender equality for the work place.
  • Impact of gender on Belize’s development
  • Implementing the national based violence plan of action through UN trust funds.
The day, the program, the presenters were truly uplifting and inspiring.


We are still on our topic of dreams and goals and we know

There will be ups and downs, ebbs and flows, fits and starts. There will be incidents you will label failures, setbacks, and misfortunes, but that are really just lessons and needed preparation for whatever success will bring. Life is a hurdle race, a steeplechase, an Olympic pole vault event. As you clear each obstacle and meet each challenge, you must summon your courage, faith, trust, hope, and belief. ‘

We explored a little game of struggle:
The goal was to get as many small beads as possible on a very frayed piece of rope in 30 seconds – pretending the frayed rope is life and the little beads are our dreams and goals.

FLC receives community grant

Congratulations to us at FLC!  
The FLC girls were approved for a community grant award from Full Basket Belize (formally International Friends of Belize or IFOB). 

The funds allow us to order books that we are dying to read:
·      PUSH
·      WILLOW

In addition it funds our trip to Belize City in March to attend a Women's Month activity of interest to us.

It was great to meet Kristi Trexler, President of Full Basket Belize, at Ocean Academy. She joined to group with an interview to hear and see what its all about.

Dreams and Goals

We started our 2nd semester exploring the large topic of dreams and goals.

What is the difference between Goal and Dream?

We all have dreams – dreams to do something good, dreams to achieve something, dream to excel in something, dream to earn but have you ever thought what is the difference between Goal and Dream?
Goal is the way to achieve your dreams. Goal is a dream with solid action. Goal comes with timestamps. No words for goal like ” I’ll do it some day”, ” I wish to be..” or  ” Hopefully it will happen at some point”. Goal has specific time limit and prompt action – DO IT NOW; CHASE IT NOW.
Never mix up success or failure with goal. Chase it, if you fail learn from it, set a new time stamp and chase again. Keep laser focus to your goal and hard work is the mantra of success. Success is a journey. No body can get success in one day. You have to earn it.

With this text we started exploring our dreams and how to give them legs.

We were lucky to have to guests Taylor and Kimberly joining our group.
Kimberly shared her life story, spoke about her dreams she had as a young woman and how her dream changed over time and how she achieves her goals.

Kimberly said her good-byes with a personal note for each FLC member:
‘Aim high, don’t be satisfied with the norm – raise the bar.’
Words she learned from a wise woman while visiting Caye Caulker.

FLC semester ending dinner at Sandbox restaurant in Caye Caulker


We started the New Year with a beautiful game and promise: TO PAY IT FORWARD.

Each FLC lady got a piece of paper attached to her back with her name on it, then all FLC members where ask each give a compliment to another member.
After all received compliments from everyone else in the group the papers got distributed randomly and each person read the list of compliments to the girl it was addressed to and the ritual was completed by shaking hands and saying ‘I will respect you.’
After the list of compliments got returned to its owner and signed with ’I commit to love myself and pay it forward’

Shania got complimented with ‘You always know what to say when the time comes.’

Stephanie received ‘ You are an amazingly funny and smart person.’

For Xena ‘ I love your innocence and your pride.’

Compliment for Anisa ‘ You are a great person.’

Kyra got complimented with ‘ You are a wonderful person that motivates people.’

Cheyenne received ‘ You are a positive person and you have a wonderful mentality.’

For Anifa ‘ You are a very strong person.’

FLC X-MAS Lunch & Games 2012

FLC Christmas Lunch 2012


FLC Leading Ladies 2012

Kyra, Shania, Anisa, Stephannie & Cheyenne. Absent Anifa & Xena








Ocean Academy female students earn community grant from Full Basket Belize

With Full Basket Belize funding, the FLC club can now travel to Belize City in March 2013 and participate in Women’s Month activities and seminars. The grant will also fund inspirational books selected by the girls, shelving repairs in the school library, and the purchase of one computer.
You can read the girls’ poems and reflections on the FLC blog: http://femaleleadershipcommunity.blogspot.com/ and like them on Facebook. 

Full Basket Belize (formally known as International Friends of Belize) is committed to improving the education, health and environment of Belizean communities by providing educational scholarships and small project grants.  The organization is a non-profit made up of former Belize Peace Corps volunteers and funded entirely by donations.  Since 2004 they have provided 21 community grants and 80 high-school scholarships in Belize.  Learn more at www.fullbasketbelize.org.

More photos and student success stories are on the Ocean Academy school website  http://www.cayecaulkerschool.com/projects-news-and-photos-updated-daily and Facebook.  Congratulations FLC, and thank you Full Basket Belize for your support.

The 2012 Girl Effect GlobalGiving Challenge

During the month of Novemer FLC & Ocean Academy participated in Girl Effect fundraiser. We sadly did not win the challenge but we took the opporunity to study the some of the projects and learn about the needs of other young girls around the world.

The 2012 Girl Effect GlobalGiving Challenge is an opportunity for girl-focused organizations and projects to connect with the Girl Effect movement and compete for an opportunity to win a one-year spot on the Girl Effect fundraising page here on GlobalGiving. Twelve winners will be chosen and we will provide them with increased visibility and financial support to succeed.

Belizean Girls, 10 Journals, 10 Flc Dreams:
Every Tuesday afternoon ten Belizean girls meet to read literature and discuss identity, race, self-esteem, anger management, healthy lifestyle choices, relationships, importance of education and career dreams. FLC girls develop inner strength, trust and communication skills in a safe circle of sisterhood. The girls write in their journals and post their dreams on the club blog.

Child Prostitute To Ceo: Transform 500 Young Women:
This project will provide school and after-school vocational training, mentoring, and support services for up to 500 girls in the 10-19 age bracket. West Point (our program's geographic focus) has the highest rate of child prostitution in Liberia. Most girls are expected to work from a very young age, and only if they are lucky do they avoid falling prey to sexual exploitation. This project aims to help them escape this awful fate.

Equip Rural Kenyan Girls To Get Up Out Of Poverty:
Impoverished adolescent girls in rural Kenya face enormous obstacles to completing education needed for self-supporting work. GET UP (Girl Empowerment Team of the Umoja Project) paves a path to success through a comprehensive program focusing on health education, positive relationships, life skills and girls' rights. Community women are trained to serve as mentors, and professional women provide vocational guidance. With effective support, girls learn to GET UP instead of giving up.

Building The Futures Of 100 Zimbabwean Girls:
Zimbabwe is a dangerous place to grow up female. ZimKids is training 100 orphan girls to surmount the economic and social chaos and lead their community to a more vibrant and just future.

Building The Futures Of 100 Zimbabwean Girls:
Zimbabwe is a dangerous place to grow up female. ZimKids is training 100 orphan girls to surmount the economic and social chaos and lead their community to a more vibrant and just future.

Empower African Girls With Hygiene And Education:
The poverty cycle can be broken when girls stay in school. An innovative solution has proven to be key - sustainable feminine hygiene she can count on. With it, she can avoid infection, shame, exploitation, early marriage, and even trafficking.Your support of this project provides girls quality washable sanitary pads and important reproductive health, hygiene, self-defense and sewing training. Girls, families and communities are empowered as leaders and sewing cooperatives gain income and skills

The Freedom Project: Prevention Through Education:
In Thailand, The Freedom Project works with children at risk to prevent human trafficking & child sexual exploitation through education & community development. Through educational scholarships, tutoring, mentors, workshops & additional programs at our community Resource Center, we're helping more than 130 children reach their potential & become the leaders of tomorrow

Kyra's thoughts

© by Stephanie Sinclair

Kyra worked with this text and photo to reflect on the child brides.

‘When Sunil's parents arranged for her marriage at age 11, she threatened to report them to police in Rajasthan, India. They relented, and Sunil, now 13, stayed in school. "Studying will give her an edge against others," her mother now says.’

Too young to Wed is a story about young girls in arranged marriages when they are very young. I can’t even imagine getting married at this age especially to someone three times older then me. In India and Yemen they force young girls to marry and have sex when they start going through puberty.
I feel stories like this affect me because I’m a young women and it hurts to hear that stories like are going on in many parts of the world. All in all I hope those illegal marriages come to a stop soon and I wish the best for all the girls who are forced to marry and that justice will reveal for them.

The story I read on Sunil’s life is very sad to hear. In a way I feel like her character about standing up is related to my own character. I always stand up for myself and help others. Sunil did the right thing by threatening her parents to report them to the police.
To learn about these stories really inspires how different my life is in Belize.

Too Young to Wed

©Stephanie Sinclair

This year in our FLC meetings we are also exploring the larger world around us and learning, reading and writing about needs of other girls around the word.

In a 3-week session we studied:
Too Young to Wed - The secret world of child brides
By Cynthia Gorney & Photograph by Stephanie Sinclair
(please note the copyright for essay & photography belongs to Cynthia Gorney and Stephanie Sinclair)

Because the wedding was illegal and a secret, except to the invited guests, and because marriage rites in Rajasthan are often conducted late at night, it was well into the afternoon before the three girl brides in this dry farm settlement in the north of India began to prepare themselves for their sacred vows. They squatted side by side on the dirt, a crowd of village women holding sari cloth around them as a makeshift curtain, and poured soapy water from a metal pan over their heads. Two of the brides, the sisters Radha and Gora, were 15 and 13, old enough to understand what was happening. The third, their niece Rajani, was 5. She wore a pink T-shirt with a butterfly design on the shoulder. A grown-up helped her pull it off to bathe.
The grooms were en route from their own village, many miles away. No one could afford an elephant or the lavishly saddled horses that would have been ceremonially correct for the grooms' entrance to the wedding, so they were coming by car and were expected to arrive high-spirited and drunk. The only local person to have met the grooms was the father of the two oldest girls, a slender gray-haired farmer with a straight back and a drooping mustache. This farmer, whom I will call Mr. M, was both proud and wary as he surveyed guests funneling up the rocky path toward the bright silks draped over poles for shade; he knew that if a nonbribable police officer found out what was under way, the wedding might be interrupted mid-ceremony, bringing criminal arrests and lingering shame to his family….

…The people who work full-time trying to prevent child marriage, and to improve women's lives in societies of rigid tradition, are the first to smack down the impertinent notion that anything about this endeavor is simple. Forced early marriage thrives to this day in many regions of the world—arranged by parents for their own children, often in defiance of national laws, and understood by whole communities as an appropriate way for a young woman to grow up when the alternatives, especially if they carry a risk of her losing her virginity to someone besides her husband, are unacceptable…

To read the full essay and see more photography please go to:

Applying the Seven Instruments in our FLC meeting.

Each person has a distinctive SONG that is his or hers alone. The mission is to try to help navigate the waters that will allow you to sing that song to the best of your capabilities. The approach is built around the exploration and development of seven essential Life Skills, or INSTRUMENTS which when applied, allow you to reach your full potential by “making good choices”, transforming your live and in turn, the culture and community around you.

The Seven Instruments are: Self Awareness, Self Esteem, Sense of Humor, Empathy, Integrity, Responsibility and Focus.

While exploring those words we created bracelets. We assigned a specific color to each word: Self Awareness (green), Self Esteem (yellow), Sense of Humor (clear), Empathy (silver), Integrity (light blue), Responsibility (dark blue) and Focus (red).
and chose for our design colors = instruments that we already use well and/or colors = instruments that we want to learn or that need more attention.

Very close to respect is APOLOGIZE.

This is from our brainstorm

  • Apologize is a way of saying sorry.
  • You apologize when you do something wrong.
  • You apologize when something happens to someone and you feel sorry for that person.
  • Apologize is to take the responsibility of saying sorry.
  • You can apologize by writing a letter, by giving a gift or you just talk to that person.
  • You talk to him/her privately letting them know that you are sorry.
  • Drawing a nice picture symbolizing you’re sorry.
  • Dedicate an apology song to him/her.
  • You can just spontaneously shout out ‘ I’m sorry ‘ and hope for a positive reaction.
  • You can always do the mature thing and talk to that person about your feeling and work it out.
  • It’s showing responsibility and taking matters into your own hand when you do something wrong.
  • To apologize is a way of showing respect.

What we think about RESPECT at FLC.

FLC started the 2nd year with a bang. This year FLC is part of the Ocean Academy elective program.
Since we have some new members in the group our first big topic was RESPECT:

Respect – by Kyra, Xena & Cheyenne

Respect means having manner for yourself and for others. Respect shows appreciation and gratitude towards others.
Respect is making peace; say thank you after dinner, asking with please for your wants and needs; respect is something that you develop as a child and showing a great value or appreciation. It is a strong concept through life. It’s important – it’s valuable – it’s an accomplishment that everyone can earn and can make their goals come through with respect.
With self-respect anything is possible. Respect means obeying the rules, law and family. It’s caring for others and living things such as plants, animals and the beautiful earth. It means respect other’s property. Respect is like a rule that you make for yourself and you abide to it. Respect can lead you to become a successful person. You can reach a long way with it. Everyone should learn respect, because no one likes to be disrespected with bad attitude and hurtful words. With this skill learned you’ll have a lot waiting for you on your journey.
Respect is everything, all life basics that you speak or heard of – having respect gives you a great feeling.

Respect – by Anifa, Anisa & Shania

While growing up; our parents always taught us that respecting others and respecting yourself is the number one priority. As we get older we learn that gaining respect is not as easy as we were taught when we were young.
Now, we must respect ourselves, then respect others – for them to respect us.
What really is respect?
Respect is showing appreciation to someone or something and showing them what they are worth. Respect is important because it develops dignity and shows that you have values and responsibility.


FLC receiving 2nd runner up for “Power to Women Award”

The Belize Youth Awards 2012 are prestigious national honors to outstanding young Belizeans. 
The show took place on Sept. 12th at the Bliss Center in Belize City.

A big & proud shout-out goes to the ladies of the FLC Group for receiving 2nd runner up for “Power to Women Award”
Great job Anisa, Anifa, Shania, Xena & Cheyenne!
Also congratulations are in order to Kyle and Yuma (pictured with group) for receiving the 1st runner up for the “Agriculture Award” and 1st Place in the “Environmental Award”.