"The premise of Unleashed--social justice via animal rights--
acts as a catalyst for broader issues such as female empowerment, self-
esteem, leadership, and social change. Of course, the girls do not
attend meetings and rescues thinking, 'Today I'm going to learn what
it means to be powerful' or 'Today I'm going to figure out how to work
well with other women in a group'; rather, the discussions and
activities as they pertain to animal welfare and its impact on our
society, and the leadership roles they adapt as a result, are designed
to subconsciously rev their mental engines in those specific
Stacey Radin became concerned about middle school girls. At the
peak age of identity formation, they are all too often treated in ways
that reinforce dysfunctional gender stereotypes. They are silenced
and taught to devalue themselves and their very real strengths. They
are also at an age where (as compared to primary and high schoolers)
they have very few after school programs in a world where many
potentially supportive institutions are weakened or missing in
action. Radin decided to do something to fill this void. The fruit
of her labor is the subject of her Brave Girls: Raising Young Women
with Passion and Purpose to Become Powerful leaders.
Radin hypothesized that if preadolescent girls had the chance to
cultivate their leadership potential through a passion they could
wield authentic power for the rest of their lives. Her first mission
was to discover what girls that age were most passionate about.
Through focus groups she discovered that they care very deeply about
animal welfare. This epiphany became the seed for Unleashed, a three
month leadership and community service program.
"...Encountering the injustice of animal mistreatment and
learning how to create change would ignite the girls to experiment
with power and thoughtfully reflect on being a strong female. For
most females, discovering power comes much later in life, if at all.
Knowing that social activism requires strength, determination,
passion, and action, middle school seemed like the ideal opportunity
to introduce the importance of power and pave the way for girls to see
what they can do with it."
Radin's very reader friendly narrative neatly blends research
and theory with practice and observation. Her stories about
individual girls are especially touching. I recommend Brave Girls to
all who raise and work with middle school age girls.
On a personal note, I am happy to announce that some special friends
who sadly lost beloved canine companions are hearing or anticipating
the patter of little paws. Pat and Doug Bears have a totally adorable
cream colored puppy with seemingly endless energy. Shelley and John
Jemmison are expecting a labradoodle in November.
A great big shout out goes out to the pups and proud parents.
Sent from my iPod