April Preyar was recently recognized by the Chicago Tribune for the project she created in Landmark Education’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program. The two day event at Robeson high school was designed to encourage, mentor and otherwise empower teenage African American girls in the Chicago area.
Sister Act: Program Empowers Girls
by Anne Stein
As a Duke University undergraduate, April Preyar ran a mentorship program for girls living in a local housing project, pairing them with fellow Duke students. As a law student at George Washington University, she led a Girl Scout troop in one of the poorest areas of Washington, D.C. "I’ve worked with African-American girls most of my adult life because I think this group often gets overlooked," says Preyar, 34, now a Chicago criminal defense attorney.
Next weekend she launches her biggest project yet: Lil’ S.I.S. (Sisters Inspiring Sisters) Expo Chicago, a two-day festival at Robeson High School in Englewood, designed to educate, empower and inspire African-American girls, ages 13-18.
"I was very, very fortunate," says the African-American lawyer, who grew up in Beverly/Morgan Park. "I lived in a two-parent home and went to private schools my entire life, played violin and piano and was given all the advantages any child could have. I just wish that for every child."
The free fest features 25 workshops led by guest speakers that will cover topics ranging from body image and self-esteem to career and college prep, dating violence and relationships. Speakers will also talk about HIV/AIDS and teen mom issues. Preyar, who’s also a performance poet, is including art and dance seminars to capture every girl’s interest.
Special guests include Chicago recording artist Syleena Johnson, V103 radio personality Sundance and Bionce Foxx of WGCI-FM 107.5.
"The main purpose of the expo is to empower girls and remind them that they’re extraordinary," says Preyar. "We want to show them that you can have whatever you like in life."
Lil’ S.I.S. Expo Chicago takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 7. For information: lilsisexpo.org. Registration is free and girls can sign up for one or both days.