February is the Valentine month. This month at the Center for Transformational Presence, we are celebrating the African concept of Ubuntu – “I am because you are.” In particular, we are celebrating heroes of the heart.
This week, we introduce Angela Patton, a heart hero for young girls of African descent. While the system might describe these girls as “at-risk,” Angela chooses to describe them as “at-promise.” It all started when the five-year-old daughter of a friend was killed in a firearm accident in 2004. The little girl’s name was Diva Mistadi Smith-Roane.
Committed to turning tragedies into inspiration and positive impact in the community, Angela Patton created Camp Diva, a summer camp where girls from age 11 to 17 could feel safe and prepare for their passage into womanhood. Camp Diva has now expanded to offer after-school programs, conferences, and other programs and services. Ubuntu.
One of the focuses at Camp Diva is to help girls and their fathers stay connected and in each others’ lives in a way that is healthy and healing for both. Some of the girls suggested that one way to do this would be to have a father-daughter dance. This was a great idea, yet then another issue arose. What about those girls whose fathers couldn’t come because they were in prison?
One of the girls had the idea to hold the dance in the jail. While many thought this could never happen, Angela and the girls wrote a letter to the Richmond, Virginia county sheriff and proposed the dance. Every girl signed the letter. I’ll let Angela tell you the rest of the story in her 2013 TEDxWomen talk below. A closer relationship between those girls and their fathers became a little more possible because of Angela Patton, the sheriff, the prison guards, the girls themselves, their fathers, and many others. Ubuntu was at work all over the place.
Enjoy the video.
P.S. If you want to further explore the power of the heart and of personal presence, my little book, The Power of Your Presence, might be a good place to start. It’s a meditation in a book, designed to take about 20 minutes. It is also available in audio format as an mp3 download.
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