We're very excited to announce that we'll soon be working with Global Girl Project; a special partnership that will empower older girls at our Skate Schools in Afghanistan and South Africa. The partnership will form part of our Youth Leadership program and launches in September. Here, we catch up with Global Girl Project Founder, Julia Lynch, to find out what will be happening in our Skate Schools.
Tell us a little bit about Global Girl Project - when did it all start?
I started Global Girl Project, initially in the United States, back in 2014. We ran our Leadership Training and Cultural Exchange Program there for three years, bringing girls from both Brazil and India to Los Angeles for 2-month cultural exchanges and leadership trainings. Three years ago we moved the exchange program to be run from Nepal, and one year ago we became a registered charity in the United Kingdom as well. We now run our exchange program in Nepal, bringing girls from places like Rwanda, Pakistan, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Cambodia there for 5-week leadership trainings. Additionally, we now run our Blended Learning Leadership Initiative in Nigeria, Haiti, Jordan and very soon, in South Africa and Afghanistan in partnership with Skateistan.
What is your aim and vision?
Our vision is to mobilise a network of disadvantaged girls throughout the developing world who have the tools and knowledge to leverage their new found power and strength for community and social change. We are working to teach girls throughout the developing world about the importance of their own voice and power as girls, and then take them through experiences and learning that mobilise them to implement their own initiatives, thereby becoming role models and leaders within their own communities.
How many girls are you currently working with and where?
For Global Girl our real impact is through the ripple effect that happens when you teach one girl how to create change with 100s of others in her community. So currently we are working with around 40 girls in Nigeria, Haiti, Pakistan, Nepal, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka and then in September we will be working with another 50 girls in Nigeria, Haiti, Jordan, South Africa and Afghanistan. And then each of these girls either has or will be running their own projects or initiatives, developed through our programming, that will then impact the lives of about 100 people each, within their own communities. So you can see how that ripple can become a wave!
When did you hear about Skateistan and how did the partnership come about?
I first heard about Skateistan back in 2014, around the time that I founded Global Girl Project. I had heard that Skateistan was running really innovative skateboarding programs for girls in Afghanistan and I knew at that moment that one day I would partner with Skateistan! Global Girl is a partner-based organisation. What makes us successful is working together with well-established organisations that work locally within the communities that we want to work within. It’s very important to us that our partnerships are strong and that we share the same vision with our partners to create change through the power of girls. We know that our partners are the experts within their own communities and so we trust them 100% to help us to deliver programming that is impactful, culturally appropriate, and community-driven. We were looking for countries to expand our Blended Learning Leadership Initiative (BLLI) into and I knew that the time was right for us to expand our work into Afghanistan and so I just reached out to the right person in Skateistan. I later found out that my curriculum writer went to grad school with one of the women on Skateistan's board and so she vouched for us, as an organisation and helped us to get an initial meeting. After meeting with Talia and Imran (Skateistan's Programs Director and Programs Manager), they suggested that we not only launch our program with their team in Afghanistan but also with their team in Johannesburg! And the rest will be herstory!
What will the partnership entail for Skateistan students?
Our program will run in both Johannesburg and Mazar to start and we will be running a 3-month long program three times throughout 2020/21. The program runs with groups of 10 girls, aged 13 to 18 years, in each 3-month cohort and is run by one of Skateistan's local educators who we train and support. The curriculum is delivered through an online platform, but is meant to be run in-person with small group work. However, with COVID19 we are looking at how the participants can be supported with sufficient technology and data to be able to work with the group virtually. We will see.
The girls meet weekly, through experiential group sessions, and are taught about the power of their voice, how to use it to create change, how to lead with their voice. They are taught about other girls throughout the developing world who are doing amazing and impactful things with their lives, they learn about a local movement that created change, and then they learn about community development and event/project planning and implementation. All through this time your students will be able to communicate through our online platform with our scholars in Jordan, Nigeria and Haiti and we will have a joint session with all 50 girls later in the program. And most importantly, each group of 10 students will develop and run their very own Community Action Event, within their local community, that will address a community issue that is of importance to them as young leaders. They will teach, lead and mobilise their community through these events and inspire other young people to do the same!
What are your main hopes for this project?
My main hopes for this project are that, first and foremost, our participants finish their program with an increased sense of confidence, self-efficacy and a knowing that they are much more powerful than they thought, and that they can use that power to create real community change. Second, I want each of our participants to recognize their role as models for other girls growing up in their communities and use this experience as a stepping stone towards starting up their own initiatives that support their communities in some way. Third, I want community members, respected elders to see the value and power of girls as change-makers and community leaders. And fourth, I want our program to be seen, by our partners, to also be THEIR program and for the students within Skateistan programming to know that they too can become Global Girls. And I guess lastly, I want all of our girls in the different countries where we work, to be connected to each other and continue to push each other to lead, think outside the box for solutions, and live their best lives as leaders.
Watch this space for more on this exciting partnership project.
You can find out more about Global Girl Project here.
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