Be The Star You Are: The Power in Positivity
by Amanda Viges
Introduction and Description of the Organization
Be The Star You Are (BTSYA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1999 by Cynthia Brian to help women, families, and youth have access to positive productive media, role models through literature, and a first class positive news radio program. Cynthia Brian noticed that with so much negativity and sexual exploitation being produced by the media towards woman and youth, the overall value of nurturing high literacy, overall wellbeing, and self-esteem decreased. In order to fight so many negative statistics, Cynthia began outreach with a Be The Star You Are Radio program where she interviewed experts about life enriching tactics to become better equipped towards obtaining positive success. In one segment of the radio program Cynthia and her daughter focus on women’s issues and healthy living.
Over the course of the 15 years BTSYA has been active, there have been more than “400,800 individuals and families within 83 organizations [that have] logged almost 354,990 volunteer hours, while distributing over $1.7 million in resources and broadcasting 900 unique hours of positive programming” (Be The Star You Are. 2011, para. 8.web.). There have also been 5 star ratings given to BTSYA for being a top non-profit for women’s empowerment. The importance of raising literacy is also a priority for BTSYA with two different books being released for teens and families to inspire and inform. Both radio programs through BTSYA have been able to positively outreach to over “4.5 million listeners in 219 countries” (Be The Star You Are. 2011, para.8.web.) with authors, experts, and professionals being interviewed on the program to provide valid advice on how to better quality of life. Further contact information and merchandise can be found on their website.
Headquarters: :PO Box 376, Moraga CA, 94556
Director’s phone: 925.376.7126
Office phone: 925-377-STAR
Director: Cynthia Brian
Mail: P. O. Box 376
Moraga, CA 94556
Importance of Group/Organization
The importance of raising self-esteem in young women is definitely a goal of the BTSYA foundation. The unfortunate reality of why women, on average, struggle with raising a lower self-esteem is because of the lack of support from the community to try and reverse those effects. Founder Cynthia Brian said in a telephone interview with the writer “all people are not created equal, which creates different opportunities for everyone, so through positive support, women and young girls can realize they are enough to shine and be the star they are already” (Telephone Interview, October 24, 2014) . The importance of raising self-esteem is not only important toward improving women’s access to expression but research also shows that medically, having low self-esteem can be a “risk factor for future depression” (Orth, Robins,& Roberts, 2008). In a study completed by the previous authors, data was collected through two longitudinal studies of women’s self-esteem and if future depression diagnoses were connected to those previous low self-esteem scores. The results of the study supported the Vulnerability Model which states “self-esteem…is a diathesis exerting causal influence in the onset and maintenance of depression. Low self-esteem might contribute to depression through both interpersonal and intrapersonal pathways” (Orth, Robins, Roberts, 2008). This means that women who have poor self-esteem early on in life have a higher likelihood of developing depression that could otherwise have been avoided. The key to combating this vicious cycle is focusing on the interpersonal and intrapersonal aspect of self-betterment. By giving positive feedback, support, and opportunity to young women, BTSYA enables women to know that their environment is a nurturing atmosphere. This will give them the tools toward ultimately bettering their self-outlook and lowering chances of depression later on as well.
A specific tool BTSYA uses toward bettering the lives of women and their success is spreading awareness and giving opportunities toward fighting illiteracy. One of BTSYA’s Cynthia Brian’s catch phrases is “To be a Leader, you must first be a Reader” (Be The Star You Are. 2011, about. web.). Through this phrase she spreads the message that through reading and writing, empowerment is the byproduct of finally understanding the world and knowing how to positively and effectively interact with it. Author Matlin supports this theory through research with the fact that “there are about 800 million adults in the world, and about two-thirds of them are women… [with the knowledge that] girls who have not been educated will experience life-long handicap” (Matlin, 2012, p. 96-97). Part of becoming educated is obtaining high literacy, because when people have the proper tools to help make sense of the past, the future can be effectively prepared for. With women having such a large representation in the world, it can be hypothesized that if the women who are uneducated and have a life-long handicap, become women who are educated, they will be able to be a support to others in their community which betters the lives of all. BTSYA has already thought of this empowerment strategy and has created many different outlets toward valuing literacy outreach as well as many other forms of education.
The BTSYA foundation has made a point to emphasize some of the other outlets for women’s education and self-betterment by working with women in a variety of ways. In a phone interview with Cynthia Brian, she stated “just a few ways that Be the Star You Are has left a positive impact on women has been through our On Line Creative Community, Possibilities for Prisoners Project, and most recently our Trick-or-Treat for Literacy” (Telephone Interview, October 24, 2014). All of these projects focus on providing an outlet for young writers to have their work published, grant motivating life skill books to incarcerated people, and collect books to pass out to children instead of candy on Halloween. The BTSYA radio program also produces an array of different empowerment methods but one that is geared toward women is what Cynthia Brian described as being about “women’s reproductive health, because understanding health really matters” (Telephone Interview, October 24, 2014). The availability of educating women about their bodies puts the accessibility of different options in their possession which is empowering. This is also supported by authors Banister, Begoray, and Daly who state “youth are further able to develop their critical health literacy when they are consulted and able to offer evaluative feedback about service appropriateness” (Banister, Begoray, Daly, 2011). Taking the time to consult women, as BTSYA has through their radio program, provides an easily accessible source for women to better their bodies which will ultimately give them healthier and stronger resources to better the world.
Summary and Discussion
BTSYA foundation has left a huge impact on the world of women and continues to every single day. Only when messages of positivity and support are given on a regular basis can people begin to reverse the effects of any negativity that limit them toward bettering their quality of life. With so many outreach ideas already in motion, BTSYA seems to continually be open minded to expanding how they can reach a broader range of people. BTSYA expands the positive effects of their foundation with a YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/Bethestaryouare and connects their radio shows through iTUNES at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/starstyle-be-the-star-you-are!/id669630180?mt=2 andhttps://itunes.apple.com/podcast/express-yourself!/id481894121?mt=2
. With the ever growing fan-base of watchers on YouTube, Be The Star You Are would have access to visually motivating people each and every day if they so choose through videos. There are vast arrays of different formats that can be used to keep content fresh and interesting to the viewers. A few ideas could be interviews, book reviews, music videos, and fundraisers. Podcasts through iTunes are also on the rise for being a daily routine for people to listen to on their way to work, school, or while working out. With such a wide accessibility to the general public podcasts become part of many people’s routine. Through these alternate options, BTSYA can spread even more power through positivity to help women discover their fullest potential.
More information about Be the Star You Are!® is available at http://www.BetheStarYouAre.org and http://www.BTSYA.org. Listen to the radio shows at http://www.StarStyleRadio.com and http://www.ExpressYourselfTeenRadio.com.
Make a donation to the charity to continue its programs at http://www.bethestaryouare.org/donate.htm
Be the Star You Are! (2012, January 1). Retrieved September 7, 2014, from http://www.bethestaryouare.org/About/Index.html
Matlin, M. (2012). Infancy and Childhood. In The psychology of women (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Banister, E. M., Begoray, D. L., & Daly, L. (2011). Responding to adolescent women’s reproductive health concerns: empowering clients through health literacy. Health Care For Women International, 32(4), 344-354. doi:10.1080/07399332.2010.536603
Orth, U., Robins, R. W., & Roberts, B. W. (2008). Low self-esteem prospectively predicts depression in adolescence and young adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(3), 695-708. doi:http://0-dx.doi.org.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1995
Cynthia Brian. (2014, October 24). Telephone interview by writer Amanda Viges