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So far Tonya has created 361 blog entries.

Hollywood 360: UNSTOPPABLE EMPOWERMENT EVENT

Are you ready to be UNSTOPPABLE? Our UNSTOPPABLE Day of Empowerment will bring together incredible artists for a day of thought-provoking entertainment to help raise self-esteem and benefit underserved girls in Downtown L.A.

Want to learn more? Check out this great article highlighting the event from The Hollywood 360.

If you’re interested in attending the event on March 10, 2018, get your tickets or sponsor a teen.

Hollywood 360: UNSTOPPABLE EMPOWERMENT EVENT 2018-03-12T21:38:34+00:00

Advocate Lauren Suthers Awarded Grant for Free2Luv Volunteerism

Big congratulations to Advocate Lauren Suthers who has been awarded a Be Inspired Disney Citizenship and Youth Service America grant for her volunteerism with Free2Luv. Lauren is facilitating Free2BeME art empowerment workshops in her community for underserved youth and we are incredibly proud of the impact she’s making. Keep inspiring, Lauren!

Thank you, Disney and YSA for supporting Lauren’s volunteerism and our outreach efforts to create a kinder, braver, more loving world for ALL youth.

Advocate Lauren Suthers Awarded Grant for Free2Luv Volunteerism 2018-05-11T01:08:50+00:00

DARE TO DREAM: MLK DAY OF SERVICE

We had an amazing time participating in MLK Day of Service celebrating LUV, dreams, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr with Seattle Parks & Recreation at South Park Community Center. It was a beautiful event filled with inspiration as youth united to recite powerful words by MLK, LoveSea The Poet shared her heart and slam poetry, and youth creatively expressed themselves through our Free2BeME Project sharing their dreams for their world and their futures.

Ten inspirational quotes from Dr. King surrounded the room and a middle schooler recited a moving story about Rosa Parks.

A big thank you to our awesome team of volunteers, our South Park family, and United Way of King County & their sponsors for the LUV & support.

DARE TO DREAM: MLK DAY OF SERVICE 2018-01-17T01:39:45+00:00

Bullied to Brave … The Story of Youth Empowerment Nonprofit Free2Luv

Have you ever had a life-defining moment? Mine came in 2011 with the sudden passing of my young mother from pancreatic cancer. I was faced with how short life can be and questioned whether I was fulfilling my life purpose. I kept hearing about youth feeling like they had nowhere to turn, hurting themselves, and even taking their own lives. My dream I had acquired at a very young age of being an advocate for youth, resurfaced.

With my mother’s loss of life and young people taking their lives because of not feeling accepted, I felt driven to reach as many young people as possible. Furthermore, to let them know their life matters and is worth living and to empower them to know others’ words or actions don’t define them. I have since made it my life’s mission to help kids feel safe, heard, and valued, regardless of their ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. I rolled up my sleeves and armed with love, passion, and determination, my family and I founded Free2Luv®. Free2Luv is a youth empowerment nonprofit inspiring hope in youth who are often marginalized, bullied, and afforded little opportunity to thrive and prosper, including LGBTQ youth.

Behind every issue, whether it’s bullying, self-harm or self-loathing, are low self-esteem and a lack of self-love. We wanted our organization name to be a word of empowerment. The name Free2Luv encompasses loving yourself first, loving others and being free to love whoever you desire.

From personal experience, I know the value of having one other person in your corner, fighting your fight with you and supporting you fully. It can be the thing that pulls you out of your circumstance and makes the difference for a prosperous life. Sometimes that difference is between living and dying. Other times it’s standing up for a stranger who you see being bullied instead of turning away in apathy. In addition to using our own voices to impact others, we mentor youth to raise their voices in compassion and love. That’s what truly sets us apart.

One of the cornerstones of our organization and one we are incredibly proud of is our youth advocacy/mentorship program. We assist youth in finding their authentic voice and expression, which in turn builds their self-esteem and confidence. What happens from there is magic. Advocates inspire other youth in their community as they share the importance of bullying prevention, spread kindness, and celebrate individuality. By providing youth continual support, we are growing leaders and game changers who are making a powerful and positive impact in their communities, inspiring, encouraging, and uplifting their peers. It’s a dynamic ripple effect of empowerment and connection.

There’s nothing like holding hands with young people who build confidence and engage in inclusive conversations. When youth learn to express themselves more fully, they share their hearts and are open-minded with their peers. It is the most rewarding and profound work we have done in our lives, and it is a gift to witness the growth of these beautiful individuals who are our future. Teaching leadership, innovation, and compassion is critical to our society’s future. When we raise authentic, confident, and empowered individuals, we are building a strong future for all youth. Therefore, we will continue to make this our life’s work and mission. Above all, we aspire to be leaders who inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.

Bullied to Brave … The Story of Youth Empowerment Nonprofit Free2Luv 2018-01-29T15:52:33+00:00

Cyberbullying: What You Need To Know If You’re Being Cyberbullied

Ask yourself: Have you ever been a victim of cyberbullying, or have you ever cyberbullied someone?

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying or harassment that happens online, via text, on social media, and in apps. This is all away from your physical space. Since cyberbullying occurs in electronic form, you may not always know the person on the other end of that comment.

According to a study by the Cyberbullying Research Center, approximately 34 percent of the students have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetimes. What’s more, 12 percent admitted to cyberbullying. From hurtful comments to gossip and rumors, this is a behavior that has the power to impact the lives of people on both sides of the screen.

If you’ve felt hurt by the words of others online, or if you’ve hit send without thinking about the recipient of your message, keep reading.

Cyberbullying Impact

Are you being cyberbullied?

If you happen to be the victim of hurtful comments, actions, or gossip, remember you have the power to control how you react. While words can hurt, take a minute to think about who they are coming from and don’t let this person hold the power of your self-esteem and self-confidence over you. Block the person, log-off, call a friend, or find a community where you can feel safe and empowered.  

Here are five tips to help protect yourself from cyberbullying:

  • Reach out and let someone know what you are experiencing. There is always help.
  • Block the person. You have the power not to engage.
  • Report harassing comments, fake profiles, or inappropriate photos. Social media sites have ways of reporting harassing content. You have a right to feel safe in these spaces.
  • Never share your passwords, private photos, or personal data (such as address or phone number) online, not even with friends.
  • Remember if someone is bullying you, know that their actions are not about you. They may be suffering from low self-esteem, being bullied themselves, or acting out for attention.

Have you ever cyberbullied?

Maybe you haven’t been on the receiving end of cyberbullying, but have you ever spread a negative message about someone or a group online? If so, you’re engaging in the act of cyberbullying. Even if it is a “small” comment or you’re retweeting a rumor, it still has an impact.

Here are three ways to stop cyberbullying:

  • Think before you hit “send.” Even if you think something may not be hurtful, pause for a moment to consider how the person on the other end may feel after receiving it.
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel if someone was commenting on your looks, your sexuality, or your lifestyle? The answer is probably not great.
  • Log off. Spend some time offline and get involved with your school, community, or organization that you care about joining. It is all about finding something positive to enjoy in your free time.

Want to stand up to cyberbullying? Join the Free2Luv movement and use your voice to uplift and inspire. Change begins with each of us.

Cyberbullying: What You Need To Know If You’re Being Cyberbullied 2018-05-21T16:56:43+00:00

Giving Tuesday – A Day Of Generosity – Nov 28TH

Giving Back feels good! Join us on Giving Tuesday a day of generosity, after Black Friday and Cyber Monday and give the gift of empowerment. We are passionate about bringing our arts and empowerment programming to underserved youth and with your generous support, can make a HUGE difference in the lives of youth in 2018. You can give early, too, because the entire month of November, all donations are being matched by a Free2Luv supporter. Thanks so much for your LUV and support!!

Giving Tuesday – A Day Of Generosity – Nov 28TH 2018-03-05T16:58:43+00:00

Bullied to Brave … Your Vote Can Help Us Empower Youth

Have you ever wondered how Free2Luv was born? We have an amazing opportunity to win a $10K grant to expand our empowerment initiatives and we need your support. Take a moment to read our Co-Founder Tonya Sandis’ #MyGivingStory. You can vote daily through Nov 30th and we’d appreciate you sharing to spread the word. Your support could make a big difference in the lives of the youth we serve. Thank you so much!

Bullied to Brave … Your Vote Can Help Us Empower Youth 2018-01-29T15:54:07+00:00

Bullying Hurts PSA Debuts at C&C Teen Hollywood Film Festival

We’re so proud of the beautiful, young talent in our organization committed to creating a brighter future for ALL youth! A big thank you to Jasmine Gonzalez creating this powerful story showing how hurtful our words can be and to the amazing singer/songwriter Maddy Vance for our beautiful anthem, Crashing Down.

We’re delighted that this PSA is being featured at C&C Teen Hollywood Film Festival to shed light on this epidemic. Presenters include Antonio Jaramillo from Shades of Blue, Julius Tennon & Academy Award Winner Viola Davis, and Oscar & Grammy Nominated Golden Globe Winner Slikk Muzik. The C&C Teen Hollywood Film Festival’s purpose is to give budding filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their work, and young entrepreneurs an opportunity to hone their skills as aspiring businessmen and women.

Bullying Hurts PSA Debuts at C&C Teen Hollywood Film Festival 2017-12-07T17:55:40+00:00

Uniting for Good On and Off the Field

We’re super proud to be standing with the Kent Meridian Royals, beautiful young gamechangers, to ROCK LUV and stand up to bullying. This is our 3rd annual bullying prevention campaign with this amazing high school and this year, the Tahoma Bears Cheer and Football team joined forces to unite for GOOD on and off the field, showing true sportsmanship. And the good doesn’t stop here – they’ve brought kindness to the campus where they’re having conversations, participating in the Free2BeME art project, and fundraising to spread more LUV. Together, we are stronger.

Uniting for Good On and Off the Field 2018-02-22T21:11:25+00:00
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