While attending the annual Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County celebration, members of the Mayfield Woods Middle School Youth Advocacy Group were able to see featured speaker Paola Gianturco, a photojournalist and author who focuses on women activists. One of the subjects discussed was the Keeping Girls in School Act, which focuses on global efforts to help young women stay in school and was introduced into the U.S. Congress last year. Group members left wanting to help.
The middle schoolers remembered a presentation about how handwritten letters and postcards successfully capture the attention of legislators. So the group of a dozen students embarked on a postcard campaign in support of the act.
Teacher Beth Singleton wanted the project to show students they can use their voices for change and advocate for causes they believe in. “They had to do a lot of research,” she says. The girls thought through how they wanted to present the information so they were able to see first hand the power of communication, Singleton says. Eighth grader Anjali Vidyasagar designed a postcard to convey an empowered girl. “Basically, with an education, a girl can do anything a guy can do,” Anjali says. Sahara Ukaegbu, also in eighth grade, says she liked that each student could create her own postcard. “It wasn’t just ‘Write this about the bill and send it off’,” she says. Images from the news combined with her own experiences, she says, helped her see how the act could help make a change.
Ukaegbu believes it is important for students to show those in office that students have a voice. The group sent the postcards to Maryland senators and representatives around the beginning of 2018, but as of late February, had not received responses. The group posted their project on their blog in the hopes of inspiring others to do their own campaign. Giving girls access to education in places where it might not be available is important to eighth grader Sofia Scherer. “Many girls around the world are kept from getting an education because they are married off at a young age or their parents keep them from going to school or it is dangerous,” she points out. Raising awareness of the Keeping Girls in School Act may help other girls around the world.