Skokie teen Cherie Animashaun inspires girls with self-help books


Photo courtesy of Cherie Animashaun

Cherie Animashaun. She holds her published self-help workbook “Compass: Her Steps in the Right Direction.”

Shannon Tyler, Reporter

Cherie Animashaun has spent the past few months dedicating her time to inspiring young girls and women in the community and across the globe through her Her Rising Initiative. 

The Niles West High School junior funds the nonprofit through her passion project, writing a series of self-help books called “Compass: Her Steps in the Right Direction.” She donates the proceeds to Little Saints Orphanage in Nigeria and Evanston’s Girls Play Sports. 

Animashaun said she hopes the books help young girls and women to reflect and unlearn negative self-perception. 

“It’s illuminating lives across different horizons,” Animashaun said. “I want to help women, and I want to help at-risk youth. Those are two things that I care a lot about.”

To help girls on a local level, Animashaun partnered with Girls Play Sports, an organization she has been involved with since sixth grade. She also wanted to help youth in Nigeria, where her family is from.

Animashaun said she wrote two versions of the workbooks, one catered to adults and the other to teens. The adult version encourages women to reflect on their past and not give up on their aspirations. The teen version is an ode to self-love, and encourages young girls to reevaluate stereotypes and negative self-perceptions that hold them back. 

Animashaun said the teen version is her favorite because it allows girls to reflect upon and unlearn negative perceptions about themselves. 

The Skokie teenager used her own lived experiences and those of her peers, from breakups to things happening at school, to fill the book with real advice from real teens. 

“I did a poll on my story one day and I had every high schooler write down advice they would have given to their younger self, and all of that advice is in the book,” Animashaun said. 

Affordability and accessibility are also integral in Animashaun’s mission. When she first became interested in reading self-help books, she found they were expensive. When she began looking into writing her own self-help books, she said she thought about how to make them cheaper and more accessible for the people who may need it most. 

Animashaun sold her books at a holiday market this year hosted by Evanston Made, a nonprofit arts organization that helps Evanston artists and makers with professional development. Lisa Degliantoni, Evanston Made’s founder, said Animashaun’s dedication is apparent in the book’s design and its price point. 

Degliantoni said Animashaun’s books sold successfully because of the cause behind them.

“Her product was so easy to sell because people are so excited to support those kinds of makers,” Degliantoni said. “They want to support somebody who has a social cause.” 

Animashaun said she has more plans ahead for Her Rising Initiative. She is planning “girls who lead” workshop events to inspire leadership in young girls and provide students with necessary school resources. Animashaun said her dream is to see Her Rising Initiative workshops and events in different areas to help young women across the country. 

Middle school teacher and Girls Play Sports Co-founder Liz Brieva bought the books as holiday gifts for her students. She said she thought middle school students could benefit from Animashaun’s direct and easy-to-follow approach to addressing mental health. 

“She is just so inspiring and she really knows how to reach young people,” Brieva said. “It is so incredible for the young people to see her, get to know her and learn from her.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @shnnnmrynn

Related Stories: 

Educate Girls Everywhere to launch education accessibility campaign

Evanston Township High School student launches girls’ education fundraising platform

Sally Nuamah seeks to empower Black girls with films, research