Brooklyn Girls Celebrate United Nations’ Day of the Girl
On an unseasonably warm October day, The Young Women’s Leadership School of Brooklyn (TYWLS) made history. The 320 students at the all-girls Brooklyn school were among the first to celebrate the inaugural United Nations Day of the Girl on October 11, 2012. In collaboration with the nonprofit organization, She’s the First and the United Nations, students spent the day spreading a message of empowerment and self-respect and raising awareness about issues facing girls all over the world.
Back in February 2012, a happenstance meeting with Wendy Lesko of School Girls Unite, a nonprofit on the forefront of the United Nations International Day of the Girl movement, inspired TYWLS’s Student Government Advisor Ms. Corace to invite Wendy to talk to the student government about hosting a Day of the Girl event. "After Wendy came and spoke with us, that was it," said 10th grader Vannessa Taylor, the student council public service committee leader. "We knew it would be a lot of work to organize but we wanted to show all the rest of the girls that we should always dream big because we can achieve anything we want."
Over the next nine months, the 10-member student council worked with She’s the first to organize a day-long event, aptly entitled, "What we Want," in celebration of 10.11.12, the International Day of the Girl.
The day began with a school-wide assembly, featuring many notable keynote speakers who drove home the event’s theme. Speakers and special guests including Ann Tisch, founder and president of the Young Women’s Leadership Network; Ann Shoket, editor-in-chief of Seventeen Magazine; Lindsay Brown, Seventeen magazine cover girl; and Monique Coleman, activist and High School Musical actress, shared personal stories of success, and reminded the students of their vast potential. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn also attended the event to present TYWLS with a proclamation, officially naming 10.11.12 the Day of the Girl in Brooklyn at TYWLS.
As the morning assembly came to a close, Beautiful Here We Go, a song written by TYWLS students for the day’s festivities blared through the speakers: "We just might start a revolution / where girls are satisfied/ all of this is possible when we all unite. / 10/11/12 join us for the fight. / We will be able to see we’re headed for the light / ‘cause we’re talented young women shining bright!"
"This is exactly how a movement begins," said the school’s principal, Talana Bradley. "The students came to us with a vision and we encouraged them, helped them figure things out, and supported them along the way, but this entire day was all their doing and we are so proud of them."
Assistant principal Cristina Jacobs added, "This event took work, outreach, thinking and planning on such a deep level and to see it actually happen lets them know that they are much more powerful than they think."
During the afternoon, students attended intimate breakout sessions, where special guests shared their personal journeys and answered questions from students. Tammy Tibbett, founder of She’s the First shared her inspiration for starting her organization, while actress Monique Coleman taught students that "new dreams begin when old ones are accomplished."
"Today, I feel like I learned so much about what I can do," said TYWLS student Diamond Kinoo. "I learned that no voice has a limit to how powerful it is. Even as a girl, my voice can and will be heard."
To read Gotham schools coverage of the Day of the Girl click here.