My mom had gotten me ready to here some tough stuff this year. She said that the Girls Speak Out this year wasn’t so much about how girls changed a situation in their community, like last year, but that this year, the Speak Out was all about giving us a chance to hear true stories by real girls around the world. These stories were performed as little plays, poetry readings and song. As the performances continued, I started feeling more and more anxious. How could these stories be true? The whole time I just wanted to help or comfort each girl, or make an announcement to the world saying “Stop! Stop treating girls so poorly!”
I started to wonder if I could have the guts and confidence that these girls have: could I stand up if something that horrifying happened to me? If I had been raised to think that I couldn’t get an education because I was a girl, or if I had to serve and not speak because I was a girl? I don’t know if I could have done that, but these girls had the courage and they did.
I sat at the Speak Out and thought about all of this. And then the girl with muscular dystrophy stood up to say that she dreams of a day when her story could be told and that girls with disabilities could be part of the everyday story. The whole time, I wanted to go over there and be her friend. Treat her normally and listen to all she had to say. And then she said the thing that caused us all to stand: she said that girls with disabilities are STRONGER than other girls because of everything they have to overcome every day. She is completely right. Because she stood there with a smile, in front of over 500 people, and talked about what made her sad, happy and scared. She stood up and told all of us that she knew that she was stronger than most of us. And I looked at her and I thought, you are so right.
That’s when I decided that I would try to help every girl I know to understand that we are fantastic just the way we are. We don’t need to bully others or put each other down when we are sad about the stuff in our lives, or wear layers of makeup. We need to have each others backs at all times. At the end of the day, there’s no better advocate for change than a girl. When we trust in girls, we get their very best. And that’s why I’m helping every girl I know to be her best. And that’s why I am encouraging every girl in my school to speak up and be heard! We are all here for each other and together, we really can change the world.
I loved this year’s Speak Out. It felt personal and real, and really touched me on a deep level. I cannot wait to get moving on making this world better, starting with my own hometown in Pittsburgh, PA.
Do you have a girlpower story? How did you celebrate the Day of the Girl? Send your ideas, thoughts and experiences in to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll publish them. You could win a Day of the Girl t-shirt!