Don’t Label Me


A Girls Gift – photo by Ericka Hardin-Gibson

Words have power. It’s the words we don’t say that cause the most damage. We are lonelier now than we’ve ever been, and we’re not really talking to each other. With the current explosion of technology, communication has been disguised and camouflaged in forms like instant messaging and artificial connections. When I speak to students I discover that the spark inside is still there, and just my VOICE of encouragement ignites it. I do something so extreme as to say to them, “I love you”, “You are valuable”, “You are beautiful”, and these words you would think would cause a riot, but no one has ever told me to stop. I am shocked when I get the sense that they have never heard these words before. In my “Don’t Label Me” program I first share the labels I’ve been given such as “retarded”, “stupid”, “dyslexic” and then ask students to write down on a sticker the labels they’ve been given. The results are shocking. As a symbolic act, I have my students tear the labels off themselves and throw them away. Then I ask them, “Who do they want to be?”, “What are their gifts?”, “What is their life’s potential?”. They write these positive affirmations on new labels and I leave those behind along with the encouragement to do this exercise everyday.

This program is for everyone (because we all need it!):
• All ages
• Schools
• Juvenile detention centers
• Corporate America
• Youth focused organizations
• Churches
• Adult recovery programs
• Organizations for people with disabilities
This program should be the first program on your agenda at any:
• conference
• training event
• board meeting
• staff appreciation dinner
• gala / fundraising event

Letter from a Don’t Label Me program participant at A Girls Gift