out of the classroom and in the community: Hard Girls Healthy Women

Lyn Mikel Brown's latest book, Packaging Girlhood, co-authored with Sharon Lamb (image courtesy of macmillan.com)

A month has already passed since I started this blog (yeah!), and I’m still getting the hang of it all. One thing I keep tinkering with is the list of links under “Blogroll” and “Sites.” I’m finding more and more girl-related sites and blogs to add here, and I wanted to take time and space this Friday to highlight my latest addition: Hard Girls Healthy Women. HGHW is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to the health and well being of girls and women.” The program functions in several communities in Maine and focuses on “girls’ lives in relational and social contexts,” arguing that “it is not the girls, but rather the culture in which they live that is in need of repair.” In this respect HGHW contextualizes the difficulties girls face in society, and does not address these concerns on an individual basis or expects girls to change and try to adapt to a culture that can often be misogynistic, racist, and heterosexist.

HGHW was co-created by Karen Heck, Lynn Cole, and Lyn Mikel Brown, a Professor of Education at Colby College. Brown’s work addresses anger and aggression in girls as well as media marketing aimed at girls. She is the author of Raising Their Voices: The Politics of Girls’ Anger (1998) and Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection Among Girls (2003) – two books I referred to in my thesis on girl revenge films. Her latest book, Packaging Girlhood, is co-authored with Sharon Lamb. This is all to say that Lyn Mikel Brown is an influential scholar within girls’ studies and I’m happy to see her utilize her academic skills and knowledge to affect change within her community.

Lyn Mikel Brown (image courtesy of HGHW.org)

In a radio interview with State of the State, Brown notes that the program has three objectives: (you can listen to the interview here, scroll halfway down the page to find it)

1. To help girls create a greater sense of control over their own lives and foster agency

2. To create a network of people committed to girls and in return to have girls feel connected and committed to their communities

3. To challenge girls in school and beyond and to provide the support and resources for girls to reach their full potential

Underscoring these three goal, HGHW works to create “hardy” girls – girls that are resilient, and not only survive, but thrive in their communities and in our society. The program developed a year long curriculum for schools that includes 8 units, starting with a discussion on images and portrayals of girlhood in the media.

HGHW also gathers resources and provides a space for girls to create their own media and art. In 2006 HGHW partnered with the Greater Waterville C4CY (Communities for Children and Youth) to create Ugly Ducklings, a multimedia program designed to inspire Maine’s communities to take a stand against the bullying and harassment of GLBTQ youth. The program paired with playwright Carolyn Gage and put on a production of her award-winning play Ugly Ducklings and developed an educational documentary and an action kit for schools, families, and communities to help address homophobia and the devastating affects it can have on queer youth. Below is a clip from the documentary.

Hardy Girls Healthy Women is a fantastic program that is generating change in their communities. And again kudos to Brown and similar academics who use their knowledge to implement change outside the confines of academia, and work in conjunction with girls to improve society.

~ by actyourage09 on January 22, 2010.

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