“How many of you think you are too small to make a difference in the world?”
We sat on the floor in a circle, twelve 10-12 year olds and three young women. The girls looked around at each other. A few of them raised their hands tentatively.
“And how many of you have been in a room with a mosquito?”
Stories poured out about trying to sleep while a mosquito buzzed around their heads, hunting the mosquito for hours before finally catching it and going to sleep in peace.
“Mosquitoes are small, but they DEFINITELY make themselves known, don’t they?” Girls around the circle started nodding. “Let’s keep this example in our minds as we talk more about girl activism today.”
During each week-long Girl Power Camp this summer, one day was dedicated to learning about activism and leadership. The girls participated in games and discussions about leadership, talked about their own leadership qualities, and watched videos of inspiring girl activists. They even searched for distressing statistics about the issues girls are facing in a statvenger hunt (did you know that of Canadian girls in grade six through 10 that have a healthy body weight, less than two-thirds believe they do?).* These 12 girls spent time brainstorming together about how they could get involved in making change on the issues they are passionate about.
Their energy and passion were contagious. The girls identified many issues impacting their lives throughout the day including the destruction of the environment, bullying, racism, animal rights, and education. One group of girls developed an advertisement to combat bullying. Another created a poster to raise awareness about discrimination of all kinds. Yet another developed a plan to create a recycling club at their school.
At the end of the day, some of the girls were still working on their projects during their free time, making plans to get together after camp to put their ideas into action. During one of the weeks, a group created messages to hand out to people in Bridgeland – a longstanding Girl Power tradition. They passed out slips of paper with messages about real beauty like “You are beautiful the way you are!” and “The girls in the magazines are photoshopped – don’t let them make you feel bad!” written in their own handwriting.
The next time someone complains about how young people these days just don’t care, tell them about the Girl Power girls. Forget mosquitoes – these girls are tigers! Over and over they demonstrated that girls are definitely not too small to make a difference.
*This statistic is from the Girls Action Foundation’s report Beyond Appearances: Brief on the Main Issues Facing Girls in Canada.