At Girls’ Voices Matter, our goal is creating a supportive community for girls. We listen to them. We help them access their creativity. These are our future teachers, doctors, poets, and filmmakers. What are their dreams, hopes, fears and ambitions? How do they see the world?
Our tagline, “We believe in girls,” illustrates our commitment to encouraging girls’ potential, intelligence, and creativity. We believe that giving a girl the tools to express herself is one of the most powerful things anyone can do.
Girls aged 11-17 are particularly vulnerable. Messages leap out at them from movies, TV, and social media, telling them how to look, how to think, and how to live. These messages have an impact on girls’ self-esteem and on their mental health. Too often, they lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other self-destructive behaviors.
In spite of these vulnerabilities, the passion of today’s girls to make the world a better place never ceases to impress me. As an educator, I’ve worked with teen girls for many years. I’ve listened to them tell me about their lives, their stresses, the expectations placed on them, and their plans for the future. They are bold and curious. They look for challenges and dream of rich, rewarding futures. The teen girls of today deserve the best we can offer them: education, employment, health care and life expectancy.
One of the most positive actions we as adults can do for teen girls is to listen. When a girl feels heard, her self-esteem rises tremendously. Facilitating story-telling, no matter the method–talking, writing, taking photos or making a short video–empowers girls.
At Girls’ Voices Matter, we give the tools of image-making to girls, allowing them to tell us how they think and feel. Girls who have taking our courses have made videos about social justice, written screenplays based on their own poems and stories, and created their own video games. We teach them to delve deeply for the stories that matter most to them. At Girls’ Voices Matter, our goal is to foster a supportive community for girls. We listen to them. We help them access their creativity. That’s what creating a supportive community for girls is all about.