Girls, Young Women Take The Lead With Power To Change The World

 “In a century from now, in a history text book, I want 2018 to be known for the year that teenagers rocked the nation,” writes “Kyra,” a student on Twitter with 71,000 followers.

Particularly in the past few weeks, young women are expressing their power to influence policy, behaviors, laws and attitudes toward gun violence, as well as continue to shape positive social movements to change the futures for girls and women.

 Eighteen year-old

Emma Gonzalez

has become the voice for survivors of the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., earning more than 1 million followers on Twitter in less than two weeks.

As an activist, she is reviving #NeverAgain as a movement to end violence in schools.  She is part of a generation of girls and women starting and engaging in movements including #BlackLivesMatter,  Girls Who Code and many more.These efforts align with the 9 Leadership Power Tools created by Gloria Feldt, president and c0-founder of Take The Lead. Feldt identifies Power Tool # 7 as, “Take Action; Create a Movement.” She explains, “Things don’t just happen. People make them happen in a systematic way. And you can change systems.“This is happening across the country today.“The students of Parkland are mobilizing with students across the country. It seems like they all want to make this latest shooting the one that the news can’t move on from. It’s tough to say how much stamina their movement will have; a major function of the current news cycle is that it acts as an avalanche, an accumulation of everything, all at once, until nothing can really last,” writes Hanif Abdurraqib in Pacific Standard.[bctt tweet=“As an activist, @Emma4Change is reviving #NeverAgain as a movement to end violence in schools. ” username=“takeleadwomen”]“Now, high school students across the country are organizing in solidarity with their peers from Parkland, who are planning a march on Washington, D.C. on March 24, called March for Our Lives. Frustrated by what they labeled as the older generations’ failure to keep them safe in their schools, local teens are taking matters into their own hands by planning at least three days of action nationwide,” according to Vice.This movement is only the most recent and visible expression of the efforts of girls and young women to show up authentically with their power to face challenges. It also speaks to the training and education they have had— in public speaking, journalism, debate, drama in programs dedicated to the leadership of girls and young women.Read here about filling the STEM pipeline for young women.

“Part of the reason the Stoneman Douglas students have become stars in recent weeks is in no small part due to the fact that they are in a school system that

boasts

, for example, of a ‘system-wide debate program that teaches extemporaneous speaking from an early age.’ Every middle and high school in the district has a forensics and public-speaking program. Coincidentally, some of the students at Stoneman Douglas had been preparing for debates on the issue of gun control this year, which explains in part why they could speak to the issues from day one,” writes Dahlia Lithwick in

Slate.

“The student leaders of the #NeverAgain revolt were also, in large part, theater kids who had benefited from the school’s

exceptional drama program

. The student leaders at Stoneman Douglas High School have also included, again, not by happenstance,

young journalists

, who’d

worked at the school paper, the Eagle Eye

, with the supervision of talented staff,” Lithwick writes.Efforts to involved  young women and girls in programs that enrich and enhance their lives is not new and not tied only to this movement.

Read here about Funny Girls, a program for young women.

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, Girls on the Run is supporting the limitless potential of girls through the new #LetsTellHer campaign.The #LetsTellHer campaign will use video, a motivational pledge, social media graphics featuring remarkable women and statistics about biases against girls, and personal stories to inspire change in regards to how we talk to girls.[bctt tweet=”#NeverAgain is the most recent and visible expression of the efforts of girls and young women to show up authentically with their power to face challenges.” username=“takeleadwomen”]“We believe that every girl can embrace who she is, can define who she wants to be,can rise to any challenge, can change the world. Can.” That is the motto of Girls On the Run, a 22-year-old non-profit that has served 1.4 million girls in programs in 200 councils in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.“We want to challenge and change the narrative of how we talk to girls,” says Kenzie Kramer, communications manager of Girls On The Run.“Let’s tell her of her ability to move mountains, overcome any hurdle and chase her wildest dreams,” is part of the social media messaging. “Let’s tell her that her power and potential are unconditional and limitless.”Two separate 10-week programs for girls in third to fifth grade and sixth to eighth grade comprise the Girls On The Run programming, that results every year in more than 350 5K events across the U.S. In 2016, Girls on the Run councils served more than 193,000 girls who completed more than 11,600 community impact projects. More than 107,000 dedicated volunteers helped make a difference in their lives.Among those two volunteers were Clara de Pablo and Madeline Sachs, former Girls On The Run participants in grade school and now coaches for a council in Connecticut as they are Yale University students.[bctt tweet=“Girls On The Run coaches are part of the #Let’sTellHer campaign.” username=“takeleadwomen”]Each school group has up to 15 participants, Kramer says. “We make sure our programs are accessible and that any girl can participate.”Read more here about ROX, a program for young girls.The program is designed to enhance girls’ social, psychological and physical skills and behaviors to successfully navigate life experiences. Founded in 1996 in Charlotte, N.C. by Molly Barker, each year up to 200,000 girls participate in the curriculum helping girls improve in competence, confidence, caring, character, connection and contribution.In the ongoing climate of teen activism, particularly centered around girls and young women,  S.E. Smith writes in Care2Causes of ways to be supportive. “Teens are used to being dismissed by adults or hearing that what they have to say isn’t interesting. Flip the dynamic by taking a seat to actually listen to what these young adults have to say — and think before you ask questions. Are you genuinely curious, or just interested in cutting someone down? Can your questions support further growth and development?“In March, Women’s History Month, we can acknowledge that girls and women of all ages are making history.