Interview with Jamie, founder of "Free To Be."
“Free To Be” is a personal growth movement for middle and high-school girls, started in March of 2019 by Jaime. I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions in order to learn a little bit more about this great initiative.
Can you introduce yourself?
I am the founder of Free to Be and a Licensed Professional Counselor who has been working to help people live their best lives for 25 years. I have specialized in working with children and adolescents for the majority of my career and definitely have a soft spot for teens. I am also married and a mother to two girls who are 10 and 9. I grew up in Kansas City and have been living in Colorado since 1999. Fort Collins is definitely home!
And can you introduce the movement?
I noticed consistent themes occurring with the teen girls I saw in my counseling practice and realized how helpful it could be for girls to process these common issues together as a way of building support and as a way to make change. Young women are getting caught, just as so many women before them, in the comparison game, feeling like they are not enough or don’t measure up and like they don’t belong. Through my own personal growth work, I realized how wonderful it would be for girls to start working on themselves at a younger age rather than wait till they were in their 30’s or 40’s. For them to realize they can be themselves and be confident and find the people who will accept them for who they are. Personal growth work helps us all learn it’s okay to not fit in with everyone. It is okay to be or think differently and go about our lives, allowing others to be and think differently than us. Free To Be is all about teaching girls how to love and accept themselves and to be strong in their voices. I believe that when we are accepting of ourselves, we are able to be more accepting of others. When the judgement of ourselves and others falls away, we are more able to make meaningful connections with other girls/women.
What’s the initiative behind this movement? What’s your main goal with the movement?
Personal growth in the participants is the biggest goal, helping them grow into the women they want to be. Building a community is a close second! I want the girls going through the program to feel accepted and supported. I want them to know they are not alone in this, that others feel the same way they do.
Can you share your success stories?
I have received a lot of positive feedback and testimonials from program attendees! Here is a testimonial from one of my 2019/2020 Ambassadors:
“When I had discovered Free To Be, I was in a dark place. It was my Junior year, and academically I was being pushed hard. I wasn’t sleeping as I tried to balance my homework and commitments into the early morning of the next day. And, I wasn’t the only one struggling. I soon found my friendships were falling apart as everyone tried to cope with stress in their own ways. While the relationships around me crumbled, I was at a loss for what to do. It was then that my mom suggested that I go to a free event for teenage girls that focused on body positivity. Little did I know that I would become engaged with the Free To Be program. I was excited; I loved the event. For the first time in months, I felt happy not only with my body, but I was excited to share the experience with all my friends. Free To Be was the exact thing that we all needed at the moment. So I dragged a group along with me, and we’ve slowly been able to patch our relationships with one another.
Later, when I learned about the Free to Be ambassador program, I knew that this was something that I had to try, because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. Even though not every “week” applied to me, it was enlightening to have a community of girls--who barely knew each other--come together and support each other. Free To Be helped us to break down the stigmas associated with opening up, and provided a space that allows for vulnerability. Through our vulnerability we built strength.
I am so grateful for what I have learned through Free To Be. In a society full of Instagram “stories” displaying these lives that we’ve fabricated, having a setting that allows for girls to be true to who they are is more important now than ever. This organization allows everyone to truly be themselves. I have discovered new strengths. It’s given me the insight and tactics to not only navigate relationships with my friends, but it’s also given me more appreciation for myself. Everyone deserves a place where they are allowed to be, truly, 100%, unequivocally, Free To Be.”
How can we be a part of the mission?
Exactly what you are doing by sharing the program with your readers! And, they can follow us on Instagram at @free.to.be.movement - we are always looking for ambassadors and our program enrollment for fall will be open soon!
I really would love to thank Jamie for her work and for every women out there doing her part in order to make our existence a little more bearable.