Wednesday’s Wonder Woman: Traci S. Campbell

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   One way to tell if someone is serious about their work or not, is to look to see what sacrifices they have made for it. Traci S. Campbell is the founder of the C.H.A.M.P. Community Project, a 501c3 organization, and founder of the “Beauty In Beauty Out Tour”. After taking care of her own single mother for years, after starting at an early age, Campbell was inspired to start her 501c3 organization, C.H.A.M.P to help other single mothers and teens overcome mental and emotional challenges. She later began the  C.H.A.M.P. Within program in Nairobi, Kenya and is awaiting bringing it to the U.S.

      “The C.H.A.M.P. Within program started as a 90 minute seminar that I personally conducted at various schools and colleges in Chicago, IL and in Springfield, IL. Over 160 individuals, teens and adults, participated in the program. The response was very enthusiastic. Teens as well as adults felt that the mental and emotional education was something they very much needed, but could not get in school. We then formed our 501c3, C.H.A.M.P. Community Project, in 2010. As we were forming our 501c3, one day, my assistant made me aware that an organization in Nairobi, Kenya had reached out to us about our program via Twitter. I was reluctant at first…not sure if this organization was legit or was a scam! But, eventually I responded to them personally and after checking them out and obtaining their business credentials, a partnership was formed. Two years later, we have educated and impacted the lives of over 220 young people between the ages of 12 and 18 in Nairobi. We are launching a graduate version of the program this year to provide a way for C.H.A.M.P. Within graduates to continue the foundation they have acquired via the C.H.A.M.P. Within program,” Campbell explains.

     Yet, it was not easy sailing. Campbell did face obstacles and made sacrifices. “Like most fledgling organizations and projects, one of the biggest obstacles was figuring out how to finance things (websites, employees, SEO, event locations, etc.) I made the decision, early on, that I would accept and be comfortable with forgoing things like buying a new car or going shopping every week, in order to invest in my projects. While it was difficult, it definitely paid off and actually opened up other streams and potential streams of income that I was not aware existed. Time was the next biggest obstacle since I am/was an IT Consultant and had to occasionally travel for work. Again, I made the conscious decision to make my projects and passion a priority and give up a lot of free time, personal activities, etc. You have to be willing to make sacrifices in order to realize success in your projects or businesses,” she says.

     The work Campbell did with the C.H.A.M.P. Within program led to her next venture, “Beauty In Beauty Out Tour”. The BIBO Tour as it is called for short spotlights women in the community who exemplify the best in leadership and a genuine commitment to “giving back” as a way of countering the negative images of women that can be found in The Beauty In/Beauty Out Tour (BIBO Tour) came as a result of the work we do via the C.H.A.M.P. Within program and the C.H.A.M.P. Community Project.

     “Women would approach me after a seminar and ask questions not only about how I started my business and nonprofit, but they also began to share things about their personal lives that were tied to not only the challenges we are trying to address with the program but challenges and issues many women face daily: lack of real role models, relationship issues, lack of confidence and self-worth, and a distorted viewpoint of beauty largely due to media standards.  I wanted to create a fun, educational and honor-based experience, specifically for women, which combined glamour and recognition of the achievements of established successful local women as well as promoting up and coming women entrepreneurs, community activists, teachers, etc.  The tour has been extremely well received in Chicago and Atlanta, with recipients of the Reflection Award trophy wanting to align with us even more as we grow and venture in to other cities in 2014 and beyond,” Campbell went on to say, “I want women, of all ages, to leave a BIBO Tour event with a sense of owning and appreciating their unique and very real beauty. Also, I want them to have the inspiration, information, and motivation to take a chance on their own dreams and aspirations. Women need to do a lot more supporting and edifying of each other and less competing with each other. I want that notion of sisterhood, regardless of race or ethnicity, to prevail in the minds and spirits of each woman we meet and touch.”

    Upon wrapping up our interview, Campbell left us with these words of inspiration. “Self-esteem starts with self-love and self-acceptance. No one on this Earth is perfect and they never will be perfect. Do not let the media or your friends or even your own family interfere with the process of growing in the love and confidence needed to be a better and unique YOU. Single mothers, especially, need to love themselves daily because the more you love, appreciate, and value yourself, despite your challenges, the more your children will grow up to love themselves and respect and value others as well.

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