After the inception of the Glitter Sisters four years ago, The Urban News decided to pay a follow-up visit to School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville High School and see how the uniquely focused mentoring initiative has evolved.
The Glitter Sisters is the brainchild of Nicole Cush, the principal of the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville (SILSA), with the support of its cofounder, Asheville High and SILSA social worker Mrs. LeVette Campbell. The group started as a mentoring idea created during Cush’s meeting with then Asheville City Schools Superintendent Denise Patterson.
Following the meeting, an art therapy session was funded by the Asheville City Schools Foundation with NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green. The Power of Art Therapy was recognized as being a support for the students—to provide support to each other.
“Just before the Covid-19 Pandemic, Black Asheville Town Hall hosted a meeting positioning the youth at the center of an elders’ circle,” said Cush. “Students consistently expressed their need for two things that struck a chord with me. The first was ‘More things to do within the city.’ The second request, which was presented over and over, was a resounding call for therapists, coaches, and for mental health support from providers ‘who looked like them.’”
The principal then decided to shift the focus of Glitter Sisters toward greater emotional support, and being a safe space for building leadership capacity, by tending to the mental health needs of young Black and Brown female students of both SILSA and Asheville High School, with a focus on the well-being of each student. Principal Cush secured multiple grants from the community to support bringing in a therapist to meet with the students at least twice a month.
“I reached out to Ms. Elizabeth Ivey, MSW, NCPSS of Sister Soul Sessions, a local Mental Health Professional, to serve as the facilitator. Her presence made a world of difference in the way the girls learned how to support themselves and each other,” said Cush. “This is a very exciting time, yet there is much work to be done! It was obvious what our students needed, and I simply answered the call.
Photos by Renato Rotolo –
“While Glitter Sisters is focused on the voices of Black and Brown female students,” she continued, “members have come in all shades and there is absolutely no discrimination. The only requirement is to show up, speak out and support each other. It has been a beautiful experience to facilitate student growth and leadership.”
Various participants shared their thoughts about the program:
“I am a senior at SILSA as well as president of Glitter Sisters. “I’ve done many things and have held mass leadership positions throughout high school, including varsity basketball, track team, student body president, co-leader of Cougar Nation, Senior Representative for Asheville City School Foundation Board, and other roles.
“Glitter Sisters was created my freshman year and I have been a part of it ever since. It’s crazy to look back and see how quickly time passed but also how much this group impacted my life. Glitter Sisters has created a safe environment within our school, targeted toward our Black women; but we have always been open to a diverse group.
“Having this type of environment was essential, considering we go to a predominantly white school. I believe this group has helped our Black women feel more confident in ourselves, our skin, our emotions, and our beautiful voices that deserve to be heard. Glitter Sisters makes sure we know that that’s the case.
“Using skills learned throughout my life, I plan to attend a four-year university on the pre-med track with a major in Business Administration and minor in Spanish. One of my passions includes advocating for human rights and individuals who might struggle to do so themselves.
“In the future I hope to help fix our broken healthcare system by addressing the discrimination toward people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, disabled individuals, etc.”
“Being a part of Glitter Sisters has impacted me by getting closer with friends and always knowing that I have a safe spot to talk about my problems. After high school I plan to attend Central Piedmont Community College.”
“The way Glitter Sisters has impacted my experience in high school is by giving me a place to go and feel safe with others without judgment. It’s changed the way I think and the way I create bonds with people. Throughout high school I’ve been figuring out who I am and who I want to be. After high school I plan to go off to college and learn more about fashion design and marketing.”
“Being a part of Glitter Sisters has helped me find my true identity and who I really am. I had never been in a girl group where I felt more comfortable and confident around. This year I started a club called UNIDOS—Hispanic Students Against Discrimination Club—and joined the AHS dance team. All of this has helped me grow as a person and be more open to trying more things! I plan to attend Lynn University and major in either psychology or fashion.’
Juliette Prisiloano Vega
“As a part of Glitter Sisters since high school, I have definitely felt a positive and strong impact from it. I strongly feel like I have gained a new sisterhood with all the girls and it has been a space where I can feel completely vulnerable. I feel completely comfortable with just being myself.
“This group has made me think about what I can most definitely do. It has nurtured my confidence and that has led to me being the vice president of UNIDOS, a Hispanic student-led club fighting for Hispanic equality and rights.
“Being a member of Glitter Sisters really gave me more confidence in myself and gave me the power to speak up and advocate for beliefs that I have passions for. I have learned many, many lessons in our organization. I will continue this wisdom and nurturing into the future of my life. Whenever I feel like I am at a point where I can’t see where to go, I will clearly remember Glitter Sisters and be reminded of all the valuable things that it taught me; I’m reminded that I am not alone in anything!”
“My name is Amyah Pate. The Glitter Sisters has done so much for me already. I joined the organization when I was a freshman. I have been a part of Glitter Sisters for three years. It has impacted so much. I was so shy and had a major attitude problem and always getting in trouble and fussing people over the smallest stuff. I have now found many ways to handle how I react to life situations.
“Being a part of Glitter Sisters has also made me realize that I’m not alone in the things that I go through. It lets me know that I have others there for me. The group has also allowed me to find myself again through all the trauma.”
“Glitter Sisters has shown me that girls of color can come together without drama and arguing and shown me that we can just have a good time. After high school my plans are to pursue a career in nursing and go on to be a pediatrician and also run track in college.”
“My name is Zion, and I have been a part of Glitter Sisters for four years. I enjoy being a part of this community and enjoyed the many opportunities the club has offered. I enjoy learning about how to better my mental health. I enjoy hearing others share motivational stories; that inspires me. Having a safe space to be able to express how you feel and enjoy your friends is astonishing. I’m glad that I’m able to be a part of this community.
“In my future I plan to attend a four-year university. I want to study business and work on my passion, which is acting.”