CLEVELAND — It takes three weeks to build a habit.
And that’s why the YWCA Greater Cleveland’s upcoming awareness program about racial equity and social justice is structured as a "21-Day Challenge.”
The goal for the program, which runs March 1 through 29, is to challenge participants to become aware of how structural racism is present in everyday life and help them build a daily habit of confronting their own biases.
Participants receive an email every day with suggested readings and materials, and are encouraged to take action steps to advance racial equity. It may sound like an uncomfortable experience, but 3,500 Northeast Ohioans were willing to undergo it last year.
Many Cleveland business leaders have participated, and have implemented new programs and policies as a result. “I would dare anyone to not have an experience of learning and growth,” said YWCA Greater Cleveland President & CEO Margaret Mitchell.
The thought-provoking process is part of a national YWCA initiative. More than 30,000 people across the country took the challenge last year.
In Cleveland, the challenge was initially implemented as a professional development tool for the YWCA’s staff, but when they decided to open it up to the public in 2019 to see if there was interest, the answer was a resounding yes.
Two hundred people signed up in the first hour, Mitchell said. And the numbers kept growing. There were 1,500 participants by the day the YWCA launched that first 21-Day Challenge in 2019.
Topics YWCA will cover in this year's challenge include racial inequity in disaster relief, the impact of intimate partner violence on the LGBTQ+ community, athlete activism, and how corporations can participate in reparations.
In the daily emails, participants will be given three to four curated activities such as articles to read, podcasts to listen to or topics to journal about.
WKYC Studios is the media partner for the YWCA’s 21-Day Challenge. The program is free. Register by clicking here.