Students Lead Anti-Bullying March with Girls Inc.
“I’m nervous to speak out, but I know I need to do it,” said Olivia*, as she prepared for her speech for a student-led anti-bullying march at Hiawatha’s Collegiate Prep. During the charter school’s June Term, students have the opportunity to enroll in enrichment classes where they learn and develop new skills. By partnering with Girls Inc. at YWCA Minneapolis, 22 girls were able to develop leadership skills, learn about powerful female leaders, and create a community action project of their choice.
Girls started the term playing a fun game called “Her-story”, where they competed for points as a team while learning about female leaders like Frida Kahlo and Malala Yousafzai. The girls also experienced fun, hands-on activities that focused on topics like power, community and voice. After creating issue trees, conceptual-empathy maps and going on a community walk, the girls determined they wanted to focus on bullying for their project.
Empowering girls to be agents of change within their community has a long-lasting impact. Research shows that youth organizing can have a positive impact on young peoples’ skill development, sense of agency and level of community involvement. As the girls researched ways to create change, they decided that an anti-bullying march would garner the attention needed for an issue they found deeply important. On the day of the march, over 80 students and staff joined the girls to spread awareness around their community. Every aspect of the march was youth led: from the advertising to the chants and speeches! As one participant reflected, “My favorite part about Girls Inc. was the march and learning about how to be a strong woman.” This group of girls embodied the Girls Inc. mission to be “strong, smart and bold” while learning about the power of youth organizing. Visit YWCA Minneapolis Girls Inc. Programs to learn more about Girls Inc. at YWCA Minneapolis.
* Names changed for article