Curtis Benjamin


August 19, 2020


As the world battles a global pandemic, maintaining social engagement and encouraging connections is more important than ever, particularly for adolescents whose identities and self-worth are heavily influenced by media and peer networks. COVID-19 has shifted how young people engage with their peers, physically and socially altering their ability to continue developing in their education and career choices.

To address these emerging issues concerning youth education, actress, singer and activist Keke Palmer’s Saving Our Cinderellas program and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW) will be collaborating on new virtual programming to help incite connections during a time of social distancing.

Launched as part of Keke’s Saving Our Daughters initiative, Saving Our Cinderellas works with celebrity, corporate and community partners to help young girls overcome bullying and other obstacles that they face growing up.

The program engages numerous actors working in theater or TV networks such as Disney and ABC to serve as “Celebrity Godparents” – mentors that champion positive messages and encourage girls on having positive peer relationships to deter bullying. Celebrity Godparent Jasmine Cephas Jones, who plays the dual roles of Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds in the Broadway musical, Hamilton, participated in one of the new online mentoring platforms.

Saving Our Daughters and BGCGW will also work with SMART Girls—a small-group health, fitness, prevention/education and self-esteem enhancement program designed to meet the developmental needs of girls in two age groups: youth girls and teen girls. With weekly sessions that center around mentorship and issues that the girls are personally facing, SMART Girls will give young girls the opportunity to explore their own societal attitudes and values as they build skills for eating right, staying physically fit, getting good health care, and developing positive relationships with peers and adults.

Through this collaborative effort , Keke and the Celebrity Godparents will engage in some fun and meaningful icebreakers, share their success stories on building positive friendships during social and physical distancing, and answer any questions that the girls may have about the world as they know it. These virtual platforms will allow the girls to be more comfortable, confident, and informed during these trying times.

About the authors

Curtis Benjamin