The Butterfly Effect Project is on a mission to pave a path of success for youth girls

RIVERHEAD, New York -- The Butterfly Effect Project started as a small idea from founder Tijuana Fulford who wanted to create a safe space she never had growing up as one of the few black girls in girl scouts.

Fulford was determined to start a program that would empower young girls.

She wanted to give them the tools to assist in achieving emotionally stable and self-confident futures. In hopes of bringing forth a generation of women who are strong, independent, and knowledgeable.

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"I think the meaning changes for me daily at times," said Fulford. "To me, I'm just this black girl who had a dream and acted on it. Every tear that I have shed to create a pool was to have somebody swim across to their next opportunity. If I can use all the bad things in me to promote positive things to somebody else then I really believe that's my calling and I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing."

The Butterfly Effect Project started in 2014 with only 8 girls that came from Riverhead and Flanders areas.

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The program has now grown to 437 girls that come from Riverhead, Flanders, Calverton, Mastic, Shirley, Bellport, Westhampton, Peconic, Patchogue, and West Islip.

"We believe we can empower the community, one girl at a time," said Fulford. "By giving each girl the holistic tools they need to reach their full potential."

Pre-pandemic, the different chapters spread throughout Long Island would host various events for the members to participate in.

Most of their activities are now virtual to maintain CDC guidelines and to ensure the safety of their members while still maintaining a connection throughout the pandemic.

"I joined the Butterfly Effect Project when I saw younger because I saw how the girls interacted and I wanted to be a part of that interaction," said one participant. "Love is definitely a word I would describe to The Butterfly Effect Project because we get to love and we give love and our support system is crazy. We just get stronger and stronger."

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