Tuesday was most certainly a turning point for us with the girls. We had them all stand in a circle and read out a list of statements. If they identified with the statement, they stepped into the circle, then back out. While at first the girls were giggling and goofing out, they quickly quieted down and got serious as we went on.
There were a variety of statements such as:
“I feel I will be held back in my life because of my gender.”
“I did not have ‘enough’ growing up.”
“I have been the only person of my race in a room.”
“I or someone in my families identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.”
The silence in the room at the end of the activity made it clear that the girls had been moved. We asked if there were any statements they wanted to add. They did in fact have a lot to add. A few of them include:
“One of my parents passed away.”
“Sometimes my family doesn’t have enough money to buy the food we need.”
At the end, we talked about what they thought of the activity. The girls said it was eye opening to see what other people had been through. “Sometimes you have no idea,” one of our 8th graders said, “Maybe someone doesn’t have nice clothes because their family doesn’t have money to take them shopping. We shouldn’t bully each other because we don’t know what is going on in someone else’s life.”
All of the girls said they were surprised at some of the things other people stepped in on—things they had no idea their friends were dealing with and going through. They also all said they would think twice the next time in a bullying situation.
One of the greatest things we saw was that every single girl stepped in for the statement:
“I believe I am capable of being a successful leader.”