Partner Stories | Positive Youth Development

Girls Inc. at Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center

Strong, Smart, and Bold Iyrielle


It was the summer after kindergarten that Iyrielle began her Girls Inc. experience at Camp Stevenson-Witawentin – the shy camper. In her first two summers she was awarded “Quietest Camper” at the annual Closing Ceremony.  

In her third summer the camp director and staff worked with Iyrielle, trying to break her shell. But, for a third year, Iyrielle was up for “Quietest Camper.” That was until the Camp Talent Show.  

Iyrielle had signed up for a solo performance and everyone was surprised. The day of the show Iyrielle got on stage in front of everyone at camp, took a deep breath, and then lyrically shouted, “Hey, Black Child, do you know who you are? Who you really are?” 

From memory, Iyrielle recited “Hey, Black Child,” a poem by Useni Eugene Perkins.  

This young lady, who seemed to struggle to express herself was beaming. The audience was left in tears seeing the manifestation of growth in one performance. This was the moment where Girls Inc.’s “Quietest Camper” became the embodiment of our mantra: “Strong, Smart, Bold.”  

Iyrielle was then asked to recite the poem at our camp Celebration Evening, where we honor a local female leader and our 10 scholarship winners. Another room of adults was brought to tears over the powerful words spoken by Iyrielle. 

There was a change in Iyrielle – her demeanor, her presence – it just seemed to grow, but it wasn’t overnight, it was gradual. It came from the Girls Inc. experience; a pro-girl environment, holistic and research-based programming with sustained exposure to strong women. It came from the Girls Inc. staff who work with the girls. Most importantly, it came from Iyrielle herself, a star waiting to shine – and Girls Inc. gave her the platform to be as bright as the sun.

Berkshire United Way provides major funding for Girls Inc. at Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center from your donations. Girls Inc. provides a safe and innovative space for young women to grow and strengthen their own unique skills and talents, preparing them to lead successful, independent, and fulfilling lives. 

Thank you to Iyrielle for reciting this poem at our 2022 Greylock Society event.