by Helen Cordes, editor of the national print bimonthly New Moon Girls. Originally published here. They are currently collecting stories and experiences from girls who were at Women’s Marches on January 21st.
I’m still flying high from the worldwide outpouring of female strength in the Women’s Marches. And girls—the thousands upon thousands who marched—are soaring even higher. At New Moon Girls, the feminist print magazine and online community made by and for girls—our members are BEYOND pumped, sharing proud reports from the front lines.
More than anything, they want to DO MORE. They want to keep taking action toward a more just, better, kinder world. NOW is the time to join arm-in-arm with girls you know and love. Take advantage of this turbocharged moment in the movement. March On With Girls Social Justice!
Even very young kids can do plenty to make change. Include them in all your social changemaking—from letter-writing to more marching to statehouse visits. When girls and boys are present, it humanizes the process for all, and shows girls—who’ll be taking over the reins soon enough—that they too can change the world.
Best of all, these actions are designed to be Big Fun (something we all need much more of right now to ward off despair). Plus, kids love nothing more than being valued as someone equal to adults. Listen to them brainstorm about ways to make a difference for equality and loving, healthy communities. And then help them find ways to make their brainstorms real.
In NMG’s 24 years (so far!) of publishing (check us out—we’re like Ms. for ages 8-14, plus games and crafts), we’ve always allied with girls to amplify their voices in the world. We respect and deeply value girls’ thinking and strategizing. And they always amaze us with their passion, creativity, and ingenuity.
You don’t need to have a daughter, and you don’t need to be a mom or dad. Invite a friend’s or neighbor’s child or family member to collaborate with you, or volunteer with a girl group.
Our priority is making agitating full of fun and creativity. We’ve partnered with the awesome girl-powered anti-racist gender justice SPARK Movement and the arts-based social justice for kids group Wee The People to put together a free ten-page download toolkit for parents and teachers. It’s full of easy and inexpensive social justice activism you can do with kids under age 13.
Keep reading for more, plus how-tos. Tell us how you’re marching, literally or figuratively, with your kids, and we’ll keep posting more resources and how-tos there to share how we’re all making joyful social justice together with kids.
Just like us, girls have a lot they want to say to elected officials at all levels who need to know that children (and everyone) deserve a healthy, peaceful world. Postcards are a fun way to get short kid messages directly to the powers that be—AND it involves postcard decorating. Gather some of her friends, supply them with markers, colored pencils, glitter, (pizza and lemonade are good, too), and a pile of 3.5 X 5 inch blank index cards. A girl need only write (or dictate to you if she’s younger) a couple sentences saying what she supports and any voting action needed. Remind them to use golden rule language—speak as you wish to be spoken to. Add your name, age, and zip code to hers for added constituent muscle.
Another option is printing and sending Women’s March postcards to start off their awesome 10 Actions/100 Days campaign goals, writing postcards to the President and lawmakers.
Older girls would love postcardpalooza, too, and they can join you in adding every form of messaging you use to legislators: emails, letters, and social media. Gather some girls and ask each to list the three top issues they care about. Then help them brainstorm with each other to come up with an “elevator talk” for each issue: a very short, clear and compelling statement of the change she wants and why. The key is to make it only a couple minutes long when spoken. When she has that message honed and ready, it can be used in any written communication—email, letter, text, Facebook post, etc. Plus, it’s a cheatsheet she can use to make phone calls and say her thoughts directly to a legislator or staffer during a town hall meeting or statehouse visit with you.
Older girls should remind lawmakers of the “trump card” so many of them possess: super skills with social media. So she can say something in her messages such as: “I can’t vote yet, but I’m speaking out now about X issue in all kinds of ways. I’m strongly urging my parents and all the adults around me to take action, and I’m texting, Instagraming, Facebooking, and tweeting to everyone I know to make you accountable to ALL your constituents and our future. Please vote X on X.”
Valentine’s (any) Day
Girls have a keen sensitivity to unfairness, so they’ll really like sending a message of support to any group under attack, such as the Muslim community outreach Wee the People kids are doing. Girls can send cards or letters to a local mosque, and they can do a bake sale to send some cash to places such as the Victoria, Texas, mosque destroyed by fire. Or they can do any kid-sized fundraiser to help out any other organization that’s fighting to keep the world healthier and safer. Older girls can work with younger ones to handle the baking and sale table details. The proceeds may not be huge, but the experience of personal power and support it provides both for girls and the recipient organization is priceless.
Dress your hopes for the world
Why reserve cool hats, buttons, message shirts, and expressive signs for marches? Girls—and you—should keep wearing your pink pussy hat! It’s sure to get comments, which is a great opening to say something such as: “I believe in fairness and equality for everyone, and in healthy, loving communities. That’s why I went to the Women’s March, and why I wear this hat to show that I’ll keep working for this.”
Keep the amazing artistry and inspiring slogans that went on march signs alive with a T-shirt party. Each girl can bring a plain T-shirt (thrift stores are a great source) and use fabric markers to say what the world needs to know. Girls can even design and print a message that can be ironed onto shirts. They might be inspired to start a club with matching shirts and get classmates activated about an issue important to them.
Hold a living-room, girl scout meeting, or faith community talent show with a social justice theme that showcases every girl’s expressiveness. Girls can display art they’ve made of the world they want; girls can recite a poem or read an essay; some might want to sing a song that inspires her—maybe This Girl Is On Fire that Alicia Keyes sang at the Washington DC march or Katy Perry’s Roar or others from the mighty mixtape that arose from marchers.
Make accessories for change
Girls can have a bracelet-making bash, using alphabet beads and some cord to create a slew of message jewelry. They can use awesome slogans from the march or whatever needs to be said. And give them as gifts, too. That way, her message will be “on hand” for every occasion.
Marchers across the world lived Emma Goldman’s call to dance to their revolution, so don’t stop now. Help girls create the dance mix they want, and invite all ages to a rocking house dance party, with admissions or a donation bucket funding a particular cause.
Enjoy making social change with kids and thanks to everyone in the village growing the children who’ll lead us to a better future.
Helen Cordes is the editor of the national print bimonthly New Moon Girls and has written and edited for many publications including Utne Reader, Mother Jones, The Nation, Sierra, Parenting, and others. She has written two books for girls, Girl Power in the Mirror and Girl Power in the Classroom (Lerner Publications, 2000). Her writing passion is exploring the many simple transformative ways better parenting can benefit children, parents, and the culture. She and her husband Eric have two daughters.