THE BLOG
02/15/2014 11:59 am ET Updated Apr 17, 2014

Let Girls Lead Video Contest: Jari Taylor, Chicago

Jari Taylor, 15
Chicago, USA

This week's Global Girls Conversation Video Contest submission comes from 15 year old Jari Taylor. Jari lives in Chicago and sees the brutal reality of the streets on a daily basis. She hears the gunshots echoing across her community at night as she tries to sleep. Her prose is powerful and she pulls us in as witnesses to her violent reality. Like many girls in the US, Jari faces community violence at a very personal level and grapples to come out the other side unscathed.

In her video, Jari reminds us that leadership is mirrored by others and learned by those who pay attention. Early in her life she was taught to stand for what she believes in, no matter what the circumstance. With this in mind, Jari participated in a new media leadership training program called Global Girl Media. The program teaches girls from under-served communities to use new media as the cornerstone of their advocacy efforts to improve girls' lives. Through this video submission to Let Girls Lead, Jari leaves a very strong impression of a powerful girl leader who has many years of successful advocacy ahead of her.

Jari's Story:
I am a leader but a leader for my own.
The leader that goes through the nights with the gunshots.
The nights that I cover my head with my bulletproof shield.
The nights that I pray to God that it is not my last night cause my first night was just like my last night, and just like last night, it could've been my last night.
But I am a leader.
The leader that watched the tears of my fallen soldiers.
The leader that never held the hand of a dying child. The leader who was afraid to open her mouth and speak the truth cause I was afraid that the truth would kill.
But I am a leader.
The leader that followed the leader.
The leader that never gave you, you, or you the chance to speak cause I didn't want to listen.
But you listen as I speak and as I speak your strength overrides your weak.
You see I was taught by a leader.
I was taught to stand for what I believe in.
The leader that cares enough to be the bulletproof cover during those nights with the gunshots.
The leader that demands that God's prayers be true cause my pillow is for napping not permanent sleep.
The leader that held the hand of a child that shall make it.
I am a leader.
The leader that will carry you and hold you up only because... I am a GlobalGirl Leader and I was taught by a Global Leader.
I am a leader.
A leader who is the bear in the snow.
A leader with the pride like the king of the jungle.
The leader who refuses to shut up and sit down cause of your alter ego and because of your alter ego, it is starting to alter my ego.
And yet you still don't understand that I am a leader.

Let Girls Lead empowers girls and their allies to lead social change through advocacy, education, economic empowerment, storytelling and strategic partnerships, contributing to improved health, education and livelihoods for more than 3 million girls globally.

Let Girls Lead's Global Girls' Conversation video contest highlights girls' power to create change by sharing their own solutions through short videos. The video contest has received over 140 video entries from girls all around the world. The contest has been an exciting opportunity for girls, organizations working with girls and girls' allies to submit one to two-minute videos capturing girls' solutions and successes. In partnership with The Huffington Post, Let Girls Lead will continue to feature these compelling videos on the Global Girls' Conversation interactive platform and on Huffington Post's Global Motherhood column, sharing girls' power to lead change with a global audience. Contest winners will receive $10,000 in cash, equipment and training to create their own short films.