“Project Me”

Project Me” Encourages Teenage Girls to Follow Their Passion

Instead of phys. ed., female MRHS students tended to their emotional health

By Chelsea Naso

"Project Me"

Emily Kwok addresses a group of MRHS girls during her workshop “Project Me” Credit

Lonely, lost, and doubtful were just some of the words that teenage girls at Matawan Regional High School used to describe themselves on the first day of “Project Me.”

“These aren’t necessarily bad things,” said Emily Kwok, an inspirational speaker who led the three-day workshop designed to motivate young woman to have passion and a strong, positive outlook on life in order to accomplish their goals.

Kwok reminded the girls that everyone feels defeated at times and some of the most noteworthy people in history and today have overcome obstacles that may have seemed impossible.

She shared her own story with the students. At 19-years-old, Kwok decided to move to New York City from her hometown in Canada to pursue her passion for art and design. Her father told her if she left, he would disown her. It was a nearly impossible decision for Kwok to make, she recalled, but she knew if she didn’t do this she would regret it for the rest of her life.

“Passion is really powerful,” she said. “Whatever your ambitions are, cling to them.”

For Kwok, moving to New York proved to be a risk worth taking because she never gave up. She found success in New York in event management, and eventually began practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Kwok is now one of only a few women with a black belt in this male dominated sport.

However, Kwok would never describe herself as lucky.

“It didn’t all happen because I said, “Oh, woe is me,”” Kwok said, referring to when times got tough. “It’s not luck guys. You create opportunities for yourself.”

Her overall goal was to convey to the girls in the room that they should never stop being passionate and never stop working toward their dreams.

“Believe in your passion and trust the universe. I think that a lot of people get discouraged growing up and think their passions and dreams won’t happen, you know that that’s not real life,” Kwok said. “I’ve made real life a really great reality for me because I haven’t given up on the things that are important.”

Dee Dellert, a physical education teacher, helped bring “Project Me” to the high school in order to teach the girls to stand up for themselves, set goals and find happiness at a time in their lives where their self confidence might be wavering.

“This is a fresh concept. [Kwok] brings in self esteem, self respect and confidence. I think a lot of girls this age need that. They really need to believe that their strong, believe in themselves,” Dellert said.

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