The Butterfly Effect Project Helps Young Women Gain Life Skills
One flap of a butterfly’s wings sets change into motion: This notion is the inspiration behind Riverhead-based nonprofit the Butterfly Effect Project. In other words, the small actions of one person can have great impacts.
The founding of the organization, which holds empowerment programming for kids ages 6 to 18, is proof of that. Tijuana Fulford started the endeavor by holding a lesson for eight girls in 2014. Since then, the effort has grown to more than 600 young people learning BEP’s four arches: confidence building, self-care, healthy relationships, and critical thinking.
“We have different fun activities, and they are learning what those mean and how to apply those skills in day-to-day life,” Fulford says.
Young ladies, or butterflies, earn T-shirts for their ongoing participation and engagement with the group, which has chapters in Riverhead, Bellport, Northville, Flanders, and Aquebogue, with participants coming from all over Suffolk County.
The organization also offers opportunities for its butterflies to take part in classes and activities at reduced or no cost, including its garden club and a range of lessons from etiquette and sewing to swimming and horseback riding. There are also college preparation classes, vocational classes, and job placement opportunities available through BEP.
“Our goal is to make sure each girl in the program holistically has what they need to achieve,” Fulford says. “That’s going to be different for every girl. They are getting opportunities that they would never have access to.”
Though BEP started with only girls, it has had boys participate as well and will soon expand with a separate program for them, which will be called the Dragonfly chapter.
Brienne Ahearn, BEP’s program and development director, says the four pillars program, supplemental programs, and partnerships with the community “connect young people to the people who can help them reach their potential.
“If you don’t have the economic means or are isolated you’re not exposed to the people who can help you find your passions,” Ahearn adds.
BEP invites the community to attend and participate in its upcoming Harvest Festival and Cookoff on Oct. 15 at the First Baptist Church in Riverhead. For more information, visit bepgirls.org/harvest-festival-cookoff.