When Chrisiana walked through the doors of Girls Inc. on December 15th, she didn’t know she’d be leaving with tickets to the Super Bowl.
Chrisiana has been part of Girls Inc. since seventh grade, and has participated in everything from learning to code websites to speaking out against violence impacting her community. Her participation continued even as she faced unimaginable personal tragedy: last year, Chrisiana lost her older brother to gun violence. Through it all, Girls Inc. staff members have marveled at Chrisiana’s resilience, dedication, engagement— and passion to make positive change.
Oakland Raider Bruce Irvin and three of his teammates had volunteered with Girls Inc. earlier in the year, participating in a workshop the girls put on about social activism and creating positive change. So when Irvin won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for philanthropy and community impact, and was given a Super Bowl ticket to give away, he thought of Girls Inc. “These are girls that I relate to, that come from similar situations and are just trying to better their lives. It really touched me.”
So when Chrisiana walked into the building that day in December, Irvin was waiting for her, along with many of the Girls Inc. staff members who had worked with her over the years. One by one, they told her what was so amazing about her— from her tireless work to get her grades up and succeed in school, to her effort speaking out against community violence and environmental racism, to her tremendous ability to face and overcome adversity. Then, Irvin gave her the tickets, and a big hug.
Chrisiana attended the Super Bowl this month, and said the experience was incredible. It was her first professional football game, and her first trip in an airplane. She also took with her a new cell phone— when Irvin heard that Chrisiana never missed programs or appointments even though she didn’t have a phone, he decided to buy her an iPhone 8, along with a year of service. Chrisiana used it to take photos at the game.
Chrisiana says that looking back on the experience, she still feels proud. “It made me feel proud because they noticed all the hard work that I put into myself. I feel like I accomplished something, and it makes me want to strive for more.”
Moving forward, she is looking forward to continuing to be a role model, and to make change. “I used to look up to women public speakers and advocates. I wanted to be like them. That’s what I’m doing at Girls Inc.”