Posts for girl power

I can’t take my kid with special needs to the Women’s March. Here’s what I Can Do…

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - January 20, 2017

A month ago, my best friend called me and we sobbed. We both felt despair that the man running for President of our country admitted to groping women without their consent.

Today, he moved into the White House and 600 groups of women all over the world are marching in protest. My friend and I were determined to take action in some way. But marching with our young daughters (mine with special needs), felt like more than we could take on. My daughter is highly sensitive to crowds, to yelling, to cold, to other people’s emotions. Participating in the Women’s March would likely trigger a trauma response and days of violent fits. But this is a moment in history we don’t want to miss. I want to look back on this time and know for sure that I was intentional and conscious. I want to model a balance between self-care and activism for my little girl.

My friend and I knew that if we got our families together, we could come up with something meaningful to do even if we had to stay home. So, my BFF packed up her little girl and is making her trek to my house in Oakland right this minute. I think we came up with a pretty great plan for our Go Girls!

Read more about it on the Spotlight: Girls blog….

 

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101 Reasons to #CelebrateGirlhood

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - September 6, 2016

Girls can shine
They can make messes
They can make trouble
Girls can get dirty
They can make money
They can make movies
They can make you laugh
Girls can rise strong
Be fierce
Be gentle
Code
Stand up for each other
Girls can care for animals
Be mindful
And see the beauty in everything
Girls can wear their crown
Say no

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Ride bikes in skirts
Girls make worms into friends
They choreograph Thanksgiving Day dances
And feed their lizards
Girls can smile, or not
Girls insist on justice
Remember the underdog
Perform a wedding ceremony for their yorkie and chihuahua
Girls make potions from sunflower petals and apples
Spell words out of sticks
Girls can be born with boy parts
Question being a girl
Question authority
Girls can be curious
Cut their own hair
Dye their bangs purple
Rip Barbie’s head off
Girls put lavender oil in their bath
Speak out of turn
Ask for what they want
Yell to get help
Girls win championships
They can be mean and stop being mean

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Girls ask for forgiveness
They can let it go
Girls can believe in fairies
Tell the truth
Spit a phat rhyme
They can walk away from gossip
Intuit the future
Start the conversation
Girls can love their brown skin
Love their curly hair
Love their freckles
Love their glasses
Love their round body
Love their skinny legs
Love their big feet
Love their bellies
Girls can rock short hair
Learn all the words to Hamilton
Recover from embarrassment
Girls win gold medals
They can act confident even when they don’t feel it
They can say “I’m smart, too” when strangers tells them “You’re pretty”

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They can love other girls
Girls start movements
They learn to use their words instead of their fists
They invent new technologies
They can start over in a new home
They can be scared and do it anyway
Girls jump off a diving board into the deep end
They can gut a fish
They can set boundaries
Girls can read books for hours
They can be part of a group
They give and receive love
They have big feelings
They write stories about unicorns and witches
Wear a suit and tie
Speak many languages
Girls can understand their privilege
Girls can insist on being seen
Girls can take up space
They can run barefoot in the dirt
They can pretend to be Beyonce
Girls can learn the dances of their ancestors
Wear bells on their ankles
Travel the world
Girls can learn differently
They can talk with their hands
Use wheels to walk
Girls can believe they are amazing
Take the power out of rude words
Grow up to be themselves
Girls can choose friends that are good to them
Teach people how to treat them
Believe their ideas matter
Girls grow gardens
Jump rope
Gaze at the stars
Girls can notice the moon
And take center stage

 

Want more chances to #celebrategirlhood? Bring your family to the Spotlight: Girls Telling Event. I can’t wait to get on stage with other amazing tellers and share real life moments from our girlhood.

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Can my daughter learn connection through competition?

Girl Power, Learning, Parenting, Play Time, Pop Culture - Lynn Johnson - June 17, 2015

The other morning at breakfast, the Squirrel noticed that she and I both had the same amount of orange juice left in our glasses.  “Let’s race to see who can finish first!,” she screamed.  “Ugh,” I responded.  I just wanted to enjoy my orange juice.

This ordinary breakfast moment made me wonder/panic, “What will be my daughter’s relationship to competition?”  And this morning, in the wake of my town’s fervor over the victory of the Golden State Warriors, I feel the need to explore the concept of competition a bit further.

My competition-panic comes from the fact that I have always been a bit competition-phobic.  My grandfather, who was an Olympic-class runner in his youth, used to tell a story about me that I absolutely love.  One summer while I was visiting my grandmother and him in their home in Evanston, IL, he entered me in a little kids’ race in connection with a 4th of July festival.  I was around 5 and was running the race with other 5 year olds.  How cute is that?

According to my grandfather, I was fast.  I took off with an early lead and kept that lead for a long time.  Until, I noticed that I was in the lead.  I noticed I was no longer with all of the other kids.  So, I stopped.  I was waiting for them to catch up.

I love this story because I feel like it so beautifully depicts my values of community, connection, and equity.  I have committed my adult life to examining and promoting how to bring people together; how those left behind can catch up.

At the same time, as a girl advocate, the story troubles me.  Why couldn’t I take my place out ahead?  Why was I uncomfortable leading the group?

One thing I noticed while witnessing the aftermath of last night’s championship game was the massive amount of community and connection that was created by the Warriors’ win.  Right at the final buzzer, I ran outside my door just because I was curious what folks would do to celebrate.  I heard yelps and hollers and car horns and gun shots and firecrackers and general jubilation.  There was even someone on my street playing a horn of some kind.  Not well, but with the sheer joy of someone welcoming home an old friend they hadn’t seen in 40 years.

curry and jamesI was inspired and pumped up by how this simple competitive sport was connecting me to my neighbors.  I thought about how connected the players felt to each other – not just the victorious Warriors but also the defeated Cavaliers – how taking on a task as mighty as an NBA championship can bond you to each other, win or lose.  I meditated on the connections that can even be built between competitors in that moment when LeBron James congratulated Stephen Curry at the end of the game.  It made me realize that, when people are courageous enough to take their place out ahead of the group, they put themselves in the position of not just winning a game, but winning the respect and admiration of others who recognize their efforts and celebrate their hard work.

This is what I want for my daughter.  It’s what I want for myself.  It’s want I want for all women and girls.  As I wonder/panic about how my daughter yields her own power in the world, I want us all to be able to access real competition in healthy and dynamic ways.  My wish is that we can work hard, take our rightful place out ahead when appropriate, and celebrate the wins of others when defeated.  I want my daughter to be known as both a fierce competitor and a compassionate community leader; always looking for ways to use her power to help others who have been left behind.

And I also want her to let me enjoy my orange juice.

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