At just 16 years old, Charlotte Wasserman is taking charge of providing access to wellness of the mind, body and heart to fellow teens and tweens.
In partnership with GRACEDBYGRIT, a California-based nonprofit, the Hunting Valley teen co-founded GET GRITTY Cleveland with her mom Hallie Wasserman and the help of Foundation Leader Sarah Andersen.
“I’m just really interested in how to be a better self and learn about self care and how to implement new strategies into my everyday life,” Charlotte said. “And I thought that other girls would be interested in that too.”
GET GRITTY Cleveland, in partnership with University Hospitals of Cleveland’s Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, is a one-day event for teen girls in the Cleveland area in grades seven through 11 that features local speakers in “a day of empowerment and inspiration.”
The event, now in its second year, brings girls together to learn about self-care, confidence, leadership and what it means to have a growth mindset as a young teen.
For GET GRITTY’s first year, 115 girls attended the event. This year, Charlotte said she hopes to double that number.
“Being a teenager in today’s world is really tough,” Charlotte said, referencing the pressure of social media and how the constant need to be perfect impacts young girls every day.
“That is why I thought that having this event [is important],” she said, “to teach girls how to have a growth mindset or how to be resilient and give them those tips to manage stress or how to take on that whole lifestyle of goals.”
Charlotte has always been interested in wellness and explained that GET GRITTY stemmed from her involvement in her blog, “It’s A Girl’s Life,” that she started when she was 11 years old in the sixth grade.
“It was mainly about food, fashion and fun for teen girls,” she said. “It was a light and fluffy kind of extracurricular activity. And then as it started to evolve, I got really interested in topics about wellness. So, how to be your best self, how do you create goals?”
Around the same time that she began expanding her new interest into her blog, Charlotte said she found the GRACEDBYGRIT foundation on Instagram. “They were posting about how they teach girls about their GRIT method,” she said.
GRIT stands for guts, resilience, imperfection and teamwork, Charlotte said.
The foundation supports high school female athletes through the GRACEDBYGRIT Scholarship Fund and encourages young girls to “develop their grit while embracing their grace,” according to their website.
“I just thought, well, it would be great if I could take this and I could make an event from what they had and bring it to Cleveland and show it to teen girls in my area,” she said of the foundation’s formula.
She and her mother reached out to Ms. Andersen, foundation leader of GRACEDBYGRIT, on how to bring an event to Cleveland. “We collaborated with her through emails and phone calls and came up with these main ideas that we would talk about at the event,” Charlotte explained.
“This year our main ideas are mind, body and heart and how you can combine all three of those ideas,” she said. “Having a [growth] mindset, being able to have a healthy body and then having passion and using all of those to make your own impact on the community around you.”
Ms. Andersen said that while she handles the “bigger picture” aspects of the event through the foundation with marketing and content creation, “logistically, Charlotte and [Mrs. Wasserman] have done most of it.”
Charlotte is responsible for researching and reaching out to speakers and sponsors for GET GRITTY. Last year’s event headlined with news anchor Romona Robinson. This year, the keynote speaker will be Lindsay Gottlieb, assistant coach to the Cleveland Cavaliers and first female collegiate coach to join the NBA.
This year’s event will also feature five other Cleveland speakers to talk on the different concepts of GRIT, including a certified dietician and nutritionist, yoga instructors, a clinical psychologist and more.
Charlotte also leads a teen board of 25 girls from schools throughout Cleveland, including students from Charlotte’s school, Hathaway Brown, along with Solon, Chagrin Falls, Orange and Kenston schools, among others. Students submit applications to join the board, and Charlotte selects members based on their applications.
Charlotte explained that the board helps her market the event to their peers and completes weekly assignments to help promote GET GRITTY.
“They’re really helping me gather girls in their communities to come to the event so we can have it be as much of a diverse group as possible,” she said.
Ms. Andersen said that she has worked with girls like Charlotte all over the country.
“It’s not rare for me to see these amazing girls do these things, but Charlotte’s taken it to a whole other level,” she said.
“I forget that Charlotte’s only in high school sometimes with the way that she’s been able to talk to some of these CEOs and ask for money to fundraise and the way she’s leading the teen board,” Ms. Andersen said. “There’s no downplay of respect and how much I admire Charlotte for everything she’s done at her age to make this happen.”
In addition to working on GET GRITTY and writing for her blog, Charlotte is also part of the Hathaway Brown upper school program GROW, which promotes economic and social empowerment through grant distribution, micro-finance loans and fundraising for nonprofits in Cleveland; IC Next (Israel. Cleveland. Next.), a two-year program that educates Jewish high school students in Cleveland from all denominations in the core issues of Israeli society; the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, where she participates in acting programs; and Orange Community Education & Recreation, where she has been taking weekly voice lessons.
“I spend a lot of time getting organized with my online calendar, reminders app and even my email inbox,” Charlotte said on how she balances school and her extracurricular activities with planning GET GRITTY. “Every day I plan out my goals for the following day by deciding what are the priorities and how I can accomplish my to-dos most efficiently.”
“She works so hard,” Mrs. Wasserman said. “Writing letters and following up and reaching out and trying to stay on top of 25 other teen girls to motivate them to get to do stuff, it’s hard. I just know she’s learning a ton, which is excellent.”
Mrs. Wasserman also plays her role in getting GET GRITTY off the ground and promoting the event by sharing the information with other parents through Facebook and writing to area schools and companies.
“I’ve really admired [Mrs. Wasserman’s] ability to let Charlotte take the lead, even when she has had to learn and make mistakes,” Ms. Anderson noted of the duo. “I think a lot of mother-daughter relationships, especially doing something like this, can be tricky with conflict or power struggle.
“She has really given Charlotte that freedom, even though, again, it’s been scary for Charlotte and she has made mistakes, but that’s the reason that she’s grown so much.”
GRACEDBYGRIT accepts donations to help support the GET GRITTY Cleveland event, the GRACEDBYGRIT Scholarship Fund, adolescent programming at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and need-based scholarship tickets to GET GRITTY. The event is Feb. 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Red Space, 2400 Superior Ave. in Cleveland. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased on Eventbrite at https://bit.ly/2R92fBL. More information on how to donate can be found at gracedbygrit.com.