Nkao, D2D '15Nkao-Yang.jpg

Dream: Help Hmong girls ages 5-12 realize their goals, self-esteem, leadership

Grant: $500

Hometown: Minneapolis

Nkao had a dream of helping Hmong girls use their creativity to build their self-esteem and empower them to become great leaders. In the spring 2015 grant cycle, she was awarded a Dare to Dream grant to make this dream come alive. Nkao had the idea to help organize and run the Hmong Mighty Girl booth at the 35th Freedom Festival in Como Park with approximately 35,000 people in attendance. Here, Nkao used her incredible creative skills to put together an activity called “Letter in a Balloon.” She helped Hmong girls ages 5-12 create letters written to themselves containing 2-5 things that make them mighty, goals they have for themselves, and actions they will take to achieve those goals. These letters were put in Mighty Girl balloons and could be opened whenever these young girls needed words of encouragement.

The experience left a profound impact on Nkao, and this is what she shared us:
 “I felt empowered and proud helping girls my age feel like they are allowed to express their feelings without fear, that they can express what they want to be without anyone judging them. I felt like a leader myself. This experience has made a big difference in life by allowing me to use my creativity in art and giving back to my community through service and empowerment. I felt proud of what I was able to do for other girls. Without it, I would not be who I am today. ”