The Butterfly Effect Project helps young women gain life skills

The Butterfly Effect Project helps young women gain life skills

Changes a single flap of a butterfly’s wings into motion: This idea is the inspiration behind the nonprofit Butterfly Effect Project based in Riverhead. In other words, the small actions of one person can have big effects.

The founding of the organization, which conducts empowering programs for children between the ages of 6 and 18, is proof of this. Tijuana Fulford began this endeavor with a class for eight girls in 2014. Since then, the effort has grown to include more than 600 young people learning the arcs of the four best environmental practices: confidence building, self-care, healthy relationships, and critical thinking.

“We have different fun activities, and they are learning what these mean and how to apply those skills in everyday life,” Fulford says.

Young Ladies, or Butterflies, win T-shirts for their constant participation and interaction with the group, which has chapters in Riverhead, Bellport, Northville, Flanders, and Aquebogue, with participants coming from all over Suffolk County.

Courtesy of the Butterfly Effect Project

The organization also provides opportunities for its butterflies to participate in classes and activities at reduced or no cost, including a garden club and a range of lessons from etiquette and sewing to swimming and horseback riding. College prep classes, career classes, and employment opportunities are also available through BEP.

“Our goal is to make sure that every girl in the program has something they want to achieve comprehensively,” Fulford says. “This will be different for every girl. They are getting opportunities they will never be able to access.”

Although BEP started with girls only, boys also participated in it and will soon expand with a separate program for them, which will be called Dragonfly Class.

Brian Ahern, director of program and development at BEP, says the Four Pillars Program, Complementary Programs, and Community Partnerships “connects young people with people who can help them realize their potential.

“If you don’t have the economic means or you’re reclusive, you’re not exposed to people who can help you find what you love,” Ahern adds.

BEP invites the community to come and participate in the upcoming Harvest Festival and Cookoff on October 15 at First Baptist Church in Riverhead. For more information visit

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