“There is no tool more effective for development than the empowerment of women”. Kofi Annan
Something we have always strived to focus on here at UKSD is having our youth participants help to carve the way for future projects. If we are working to better the lives of our youth participants, then it is imperative that we listen to and help them cultivate their ideas. This Spring, our participants have chosen to set their aim at focusing on women and children here in the US, as well as overseas. It was unanimously decided that this is a subgroup which deserve to be honored, respected, and acknowledged.
To begin the month, our high school Community Empowerment and Leadership Club wanted to start off and announce our new focus by participating in International Women’s Day. To launch their Spring program, they encouraged members at their schools and within their local community to wear something purple to show support for women and girls across the globe. Some might think- what good are you doing by simply wearing purple? We wanted to stress that this movement was simply the starting point. In acknowledging one another and identifying allies within our community, we were then ready to being to implement the more action based programs with an uplifting awareness of support.
While this was beginning to form here on Cape Cod, we also partnered with a group on the South Shore to being their work around this topic. South Shore Select, a soccer club in Hingham, MA, invited UKSD to host what will be their first annual Sleep Out Soccerthon. Like many of the previous Soccerthon’s we have held, this required the participants to play an overnight game of soccer, while also exposing them to the factors and difficulties those in the homeless community face. Although this is and will always be the foundation for this event, we layered it with the focus being on women and children as well. Each participant raised donations prior to the Soccerthon.
While learning and talking about the impacts of homelessness, they also recognized the importance of women supporting women throughout the world. Embedded into the night were discussions on support, team building, fostering leadership skills, recognizing others in need, and the strength that can come from all of this. This event came to life, as South Shore Select has become the first club partner here in the U.S. with Coaches Across Continents. Donations raised from this event are being allocated to work directly with an organization called Reclaim Childhood which Coaches Across continents works with in Jordan. Members of the UKSD team are traveling to Jordan at the end of March to bring supplies, donations, and monetary aid to this organization.
The young women who participated in the Soccerthon here in Massachusetts will have helped fund a program to support the safety and education of children who have faced homelessness and displacement due to unrest within their communities. This type of work is so eye opening for our kids here at home; they can see, first hand, that they can truly make a difference.
In addition to setting up a pathway to work with Reclaimed Childhood, the UKSD participants here on the Cape also forged a connection with a local organization called A Baby Center. The BHS Empowerment and
Leadership Club President reached out to A Baby Center to ask what items could be collected to help women and families in need here locally. We were informed that local shelters and organizations were in
immediate need of diapers and wipes.
The club held a meeting and organized a plan to attempt to collect these items. Throughout the Month of March, they have held a competition within their high school called “ Wipe Wars”. Every homeroom received a collection bag and was encouraged to participate. The winning homeroom will receive a doughnut party as a thank you for their hard work.
The club has been advertising via social media, on our local B2BTV television channel, and by going homeroom to homeroom to spread the word. It is our hope that our community will come together to help those in need. Lastly, we are very excited to be in the planning stages of an event we will be holding on May 2nd with another local organization called WE CAN ( Women’s Empowerment through Cape Area Networking). WE CAN is a group here on Cape Cod who focuses on empowering women through mentorship, guidance, networking, and provided individual based resources.
Much of the work they do is geared toward our adult female population here on Cape Cod, but they are interested in delving into the possibility of offering similar services to younger females and teens as well. We will be holding a collaborative event in the new innovative Barnstable High School library in which we will begin to lay the groundwork for this type of programming moving forward. As you can see, this Spring has been very busy for us, and we could not be more excited about it. There is a fire within our participants about empowering women from all backgrounds and communities. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with many like minded organizations and expanding our reach.
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