W.E. Stand Women's Empowerment Club Public Service Community School
A Girls Build L.A. Project - Powered by LA Promise Fund
Women's Empowerment Club Public Service Community School Project Plan
Mission & Vision Statement W.E. Stand for Women’s Empowerment through activism, leadership and unity. W.E. are young women of color and male allies who strive toward creating a community in which gender stereotypes are dismantled. W.E. believe that low-income students and families should have equitable access to health and hygiene products. W.E. urge society to redefine ‘beauty’ and end body shaming. W.E. envision a world without sexual assault, where men treat women with respect and dignity through healthy relationships. W.E. seek to create a safe environment for LGBTQIA youth. Therefore, we aim to improve the physical, social-emotional, and mental health of young women in South Central Los Angeles through our projects, which are comprised of a series of campaigns throughout the 2018-2019 school year. These campaigns will include various actions, such as petitions, student-led workshops, donation drives, support groups, public service announcements, and using social media for good.
Project Need Our club - W.E. Stand / Women's Empowerment started our project brainstorm by first envisioning a better community. After completing a needs assessment for our school community and local community, our brainstorming led us to the following needs:
Gender Stereotypes are prevalent within our predominately Latino culture and community - these stereotypes need dismantling After discussing personal experiences and reading an online article, we determined this community need. Our research confirmed that "most of the gender stereotypes that limit Latino children stem from the acceptance of a machista culture, where men are expected to be the providers. The role of women is referred to as “marianismo” (derived from the Virgin Mary) and we are expected to focus on our primary role of loving and caring mothers. It’s important to note here that while these stereotypes are deeply entrenched, they manifest in various degrees and certainly not an absolute." (Source: medium.com/latina-bloggers-connect/breaking-down-gender-stereotypes-in-media-and-toys-4df1a3c6e9e5)
Low income students and homeless populations lack access to feminine hygiene products - this is a serious health concern Despite passage of AB-10, introduced by assembly member Cristina Garcia, our school continued charging a fee for feminine hygiene products. Our research revealed that "while many Americans assume that menstruation only causes girls to skip school in poor, underdeveloped countries, principals and politicians across the US are learning it is actually a problem that exists here in this country. 'Young women were telling me stories about things I would hear among homeless women,' says Garcia. 'I was surprised to hear girls in my backyard would use socks with newspaper, or extend the life of a product, or just not go to school.” (Source: www.csmonitor.com/EqualEd/2018/0119/California-keeps-girls-in-school-by-providing-feminine-products)
Many adolescents lack individual self-confidence and participate in body shaming - this could lead to depression and self harm Images in media and social media subconsciously influence our opinions about ourselves. We were surprised to learn the alarming statistics behind body shaming. Through our research, we found that "with the invention of the Internet and social media platforms, public commentary on all matters is at an all-time high; including bullying and shaming individuals for their weight and appearance...Body-shaming statistics indicate that 94 percent of teenage girls have been body shamed." (Source: www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/fat-shaming-and-body-shaming.html)
Most adolescents are uninformed about the importance of sexual consent - this leads to incidents of sexual harassment or assault Following the 'ME TOO' movement, more women are speaking out about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault. We learned from our research that "In the past, relationship violence was looked upon as an adult problem; but in recent years, teens have begun to speak out, describing the same continuum of violence in their lives – sexual harassment, assault, physical abuse...The types and extent of abuse that occur in teen relationships is comparable to that of adult intimate partner violence." For example, "Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year." (Source: www.peaceoverviolence.org/denim-day)
LGBTQIA youth are among the most marginalized populations across the nation - they need a supportive, inclusive community Our school does not have a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance). Therefore, we identified a need to ensure LGBT students feel supported. Our research also revealed that we can also support students across the nation by supporting a the Student Non-Discrimination Act. We found that only nineteen states protect LGBT students against discrimination. "While federal laws ban discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, disability, and national origin, they do not explicitly cover sexual orientation or gender identity."(Source: www.glsen.org/)
Girls Build L.A Summit: Our team first attended the Girls Build L.A. Summit on September 28, 2018. We were inspired to join the movement and create a club on our campus. On our bus ride back to our school, we began brainstorming possible campaigns.
Schoology Group:We created a group on Schoology to begin our collaboration process. Through Schoology, we communicated through posts such as updates and discussion boards. We also shared resources by uploading files and links of research articles and helpful websites. Furthermore, we shared our images and videos by uploading them to a media folder.
Weekly and Monthly Meetings: We began having meetings at lunch on a weekly basis in our sponsor's classroom. To implement our campaigns and practice for our workshops, we also attended meetings after school, which were scheduled twice per month.
Year at a Glance:During our initial club meetings, we drafted a 'year-at-a-glance' to calendar our campaigns and workshops.
Team Retreat: Our club convened for an entire school day through an on-campus field trip in the student cafeteria. At this retreat, we participated in ice-breakers and team-builders, then divided into smaller groups to brainstorm our workshops for each topic. Through gallery walks and group presentations, we provided each other with feedback and suggestions. Then, we began researching resources, collaborating and creating our presentations using Google Slides.
Creating Partnerships: Our school partners with LAEP (Los Angles Education Partnership) which has a larger network of community coordinators throughout our local district. We reached out to our community coordinator at Public Service Community School to help us reach out to middle schools and elementary schools in our area. We were able to connect with Miramonte Elementary School and Edison Middle School - both are feeder schools to our high school! We also partnered with a local organization called L.A. on Cloud 9, who supports our homeless population.
Team Events - Campaigns and Workshops
Affirmations Campaign: One of our first campaigns was to promote self-affirmations on our school campus. We created affirming messages to display in bathroom stalls and mirrors and asked students to sign a pledge to say these messages out loud to themselves on a daily basis. Each student who signed our pledge received an affirmations bracelet to remind them of their commitment to practice self-affirmations. This campaign was featured in our school newspaper and was so successful that we incorporated the bracelets into our later workshops!
Access to Feminine Hygiene Products Campaign: Another campaign that our team led in the Fall semester was an awareness campaign and donation drive for access to feminine hygiene products. One team member sent an email to the school principal regarding our concerns about students paying for pads in the nurse's office. She sat down with the nurse to voice our concerns, interviewed the nurse, and wrote an article for the school newspaper. Our group also began informing girls of their rights to fee access to pads as a result of California Assembly Bill (AB-10). In addition, we asked students to sign the petition to end the period tax on tampons and pads and support California Assembly Bill (AB-9). Furthermore, we collected donated feminine hygiene products to distribute to homeless women in our community.
Denim Day and WE Are Silent Campaign:On Denim Day, our team planned a campaign to correspond with our Consent workshop. Throughout the day, students participated in our WE Are Silent pledge to remain silent for at least one hour - raising awareness about survivors who are too afraid to speak up about their experiences. Students were encouraged to wear denim to school on Wednesday, April 24th in protest of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape culture. During lunch, students signed a pledge poster in support of survivors and committed to being part of the solution to end rape culture and to stop victim blaming.
LGBTQ Ally Week: This campaign informed students about the importance of serving as allies to our LGBTQ student community. We educated students about using preferred names and pronouns. We notified the office of student preferred names that needed to be updated on the school rosters because faculty/staff members, students and especially substitutes often and unknowingly were dead-naming our LGBTQ peers. We encouraged students to sign a pledge to serve as allies to LGBT students.
Student Workshop Series:Our group members led a series of four weekly workshops during the month of April. We planned to present workshops to our local feeder pattern schools, but had to postpone due to conflicting state testing schedules and other unforeseen circumstances. At our own school site, thirty students grades 9-12 signed up to attend and participate in each workshop. Topics included Beauty and Self-Affirmations, Empowerment and Role Models, Consent, and Gender Stereotypes.
Our members engaged in civic engagement through a combination of representation, service, and advocacy.
Representation:We encouraged students to petition for legislation, such as California Assembly Bill (AB-9) introduced by congress member Cristina Garcia; We also encouraged students to contact local representatives Lucille Royball-Allard and Maxine Waters in support of the student non-discrimination act of 2018 (Bill H.R. 5274). We found that both congress members are co-sponsors of the bill! Our pledges and petitions occurred during lunch and our advisory/advocacy period. We created informational flyers with links and set up a table of Chromebook computers for students to submit their pledges and petitions.
Service: Our service campaign this year was to collect donations of feminine hygiene products for homeless women in our community. We partnered with a local organization called LA on Cloud 9, who helped to distribute the kits.
Advocacy: We advocated for various issues and encouraged others to gain awareness and become active through our campaigns and workshops (outlined above). We advocated on behalf of our peers, but also empowered them to advocate for themselves!
Short-Term Outcomes: Throughout the 2018-2019 school year, our team engaged students in four campaigns and four workshops. We gained 56 LGBT Allies, Inspired 62 individuals to practice self-affirmations, encouraged 24 students to remain silent for a total of 35 combined hours in one school day, and we collected enough feminine hygiene products to distribute 20 kits to homeless women in our community. We held four 30-minute workshops with an attendance totaling 120 students. We added countless petitions (as data wasn't able to be tracked) in support of legislation toward our causes (AB-9 and HR-5274).
Long-Term Outcomes:: We created partnerships within our community that will continue beyond this school year. For example, we inspired Miramonte Elementary School and Edison Middle School to create their own girls clubs and look forward to providing mentoring opportunities in the future. Another partnership we created was with LA on Cloud 9 and we also plan to collaborate with their organization again in the next school year. Based on testimonials from our feedback cards collected at our workshop, we have also made a positive lasting impact on the students who attended each workshop, as they are now more likely to add self-affirmations to their daily routine, give compliments to others on a daily basis, seek out new role models (beyond celebrity), consider unconventional careers, and spread awareness about the importance of consent in sexual relationships.
For further information regarding short-term and long-term outcomes, navigate to the campaigns, events and impact pages
Evidence The types of evidence collected throughout our project include photos, videos, brainstorm posters, google slides, google forms, feedback cards, meeting minutes and sign-in sheets, artifacts from our meetings (ie. year-at-a-glance calendaring organizer), our Schoology updates and discussion boards, our flyers and advertisements, and the workshop sign-up forms. Most of these artifacts can be located on various pages of our website: campaigns page, pledge sign-up page, events page, and impact page. Additional evidence of our campaigns, workshops and impacts include the articles written in our school newspaper ("The Public Post") such as the article about the bathroom affirmations and the article about access to free feminine hygiene products.