I worked with girls as a youth worker at a youthwork organization when I was 25. I saw that there was none or little to do for girls and young women in the activities the organization provided. Youth work was mainly targeted at boys (which is still the case) en I felt I had to change that! I was creative and active in the media and tv business and I thought it would be cool to produce radio with these girls.
I pitched the idea to the girls I worked with and they loved the idea. The project evolved from a show at Megastad FM, later at FunX and more recent RTV Rijnmond (a big local station) became our home.
I have been running the project for over 14 years now. At Chicks and the City the girls participate in all the aspects of making and producing a radio show/podcast. The girls come up with the content of the shows and prepare interviews and present and produce the show together with me. The background of the girls is really diverse. We have girls that study at all levels within the Dutch school system. The girls learn from each other and at Chicks and the City everyone is equal and all skills are appreciated.
From the beginning of the project at FunX we made a documentary called “The girls of Chica Radio”. It was broadcasted at TV Rijnmond and had the most viewers of any program at that time (more than 1 million viewers). I am really proud of the documentary as it was programmed at the national Dutch Film festival and nominated for a NL Award 2011. The project was also nominated for the Aardig Onderweg Awards, which is an award for local entrepreneurship.
My work with the girls is always different and exciting: never a dull moment!
What problem are you trying to solve and why?
What is your target group? Level of impact (concentrated to the specific group, local, regional, wider…)
The participants of Chicks and the City are young girls from Rotterdam that work on the show in their spare time. Their backgrounds are diverse. The focus is on girls aged fifteen to twenty-five that don’t have access to resources in the city as well as girls that are more privileged. Sometimes girls don’t know where to find those resources as well. This diversity helps them grow and learn from each other. They inspire and motivate each other by being so different and bringing their own stories and experience to the table.
Working on the weekly radio show together creates a commitment between the girls for which they all feel a great responsibility. The chicks are not only inspired by each other, but also by their weekly guests and items that are hot topics at that time. The information they receive helps in their development and make them more capable to be an active member in the diverse society that is Rotterdam.
At Chicks and the City the girls learn things that are not in their study books by having access to people and exchanging information with those people. This also makes it fun for the girls to participate.
Is social enterprise the best way they can help?
Letting the girls participate in every level of the project is on of the reasons girls learn valuable skills. The workflow and approach will also be put into action with other projects like the YouTube channel the girls came up with.
Why this industry/area/topic, and why now?
The project teaches girls 21st century skills is 100% CATC en and that matches todays youth.
KEY CHALLENGES AND SUCCESS FACTORS
What drives your motivation?
Natasja was born in a home situation where there was domestic abuse and drug addiction with both parrents. She valued her education and has allways put this first. Her experiences growing up inspired her to create the Chicks and the City project to give young girls a voice and works on the development and education of these girls. In the project Natasja shares her personal experience which where also the topic of the documentary made about her life and Chicks and the City.
Does your job make you compromise with something or make sacrifices?
Chicks and the City has been a 14-year long life investment. Every year it is a returning struggle to get the project funded and that makes my income unsure. I am lucky to be able to get the funding for 14 years now. The work also takes more time than the financial pay-off. The project goes on 24/7 and it takes a lot of energy. But the results of the project and how it impacts the young girls makes it all worth it.
What does it take to be successful?
To be successful you have to not give up and always find strength to continue. Be focused and goal orientated. Also listen to your target group and give them agency within the project. Together with the target group be in touch with their changing worlds and adjust the project to that.
What are the benefits, both personal and social?
It is the satisfaction of seeing the girls grow and seeing the change I make in their lives. The project keeps me young. I don’t feel 44 at all!
SKILLS AND COMPETENCES
The most relevant skills for my project are life skills. I know what it is like to grow up in a broken home where money was an issue. It is also knowing when to be the girls friend and when I am the professional that keeps a professional distance to be able to help and coach them where needed.
Other skills needed are: communicative, social and a good networker, knowing when to use your energy and when to rest, creative (in thinking and doing), being able to communicate with all different kind of people within many different contexts with many different backgrounds, be able to balance coaching, taking charge and work together.