Monthly Archives: February 2013

Closing Out Dating Violence Awareness Month – The UNC Landen Gambill Story

gambill

Post by Enrollment and Matching Specialist, Erica Brien

Here is the story:

In the spring of 2012, University of North Carolina (UNC) sophomore Landen Gambill stood in front of a special University Hearings Board to testify against her ex-boyfriend, telling the court that he had abused her – emotionally, physically and sexually – over an extended period of time. During the hearing, instead of being treated as a victim of assault, Gambill was blamed for the wrongdoings that she endured, and after speaking out against the way UNC handled her case, Gambill has been threatened with expulsion. Unfortunately, public denunciation of Gambill’s claims does not end with the University’s threats. An Op-Ed published in the Digital Journal asked, in reference to Gambill, why every “alleged victim” of sexual abuse or “indecent assault” should be lauded as a survivor, elaborating to say that Gambill was not violently attacked in an alleyway by a complete stranger, and, therefore, should not be considered a survivor. The opinion piece also stated that because Gambill was not a housewife tied down with three kids and dependent on her husband for financial support, nothing was preventing her from leaving her abuser. Sadly, however, the piece never decries her ex-boyfriend’s behavior.

Here is the reality:

  • In 2006, an estimated 673,000 (11.5%) of nearly 6 million women attending American colleges were raped, and only 12% of those rapes were reported to law enforcement (National Center for Victims of Crime; research funded by U.S. Department of Justice).
  • Females ages 16-24 are three times more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than any other age group (U.S. Department of Justice report on dating violence released in 2001).
  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year, and one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence (loveisrespect.org).
  • There are many reasons for victims to continue in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, including, but not limited to, conflicting emotions, such as fear, embarrassment, or love; feeling pressured, socially or culturally to continue within a relationship; distrusting authority; low self-esteem; immigration status and fear of deportation; reliance on an abusive partner, etc. In addition, on average, it takes a person seven attempts to leave an abusive relationship before being able to successfully do so (loveisrespect.org).

If, as a society, we hope to take further steps towards equality, statements indicating that a person must be violently attacked by an unknown stranger in order to be considered a victim of abuse must be challenged. We must remind people that abuse can take many forms, that Gambill is not alone; she is one of hundreds of thousands of men and women who have been emotionally, physically and mentally affected by what, to them, felt abusive. And who has the right to define abuse or rape other than the people who have experienced it?

As February’s Dating Violence Awareness month comes to a close, it’s time that we, men and women, start asking ourselves why there are so many victims of dating violence.

  • Is the high occurrence of dating violence reflective on our own society as a whole?
  • Does it have anything to do with the messages we send to our children?
  • Is it fair that many young boys are told not to cry, that, in order to be masculine, they must be tough and void of emotion?
  • Is it fair to interrogate women like Gambill to the point of self-blame, questioning their emotional stability, and forcing them to relive traumatic experiences, instead of focusing on the deeper, societal issue that Gambill’s abuse represents?
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Spotlight: Big Sister of the Year, Lisa Ewing

BFAD Lisa Ewing LS Jessica Gallo

Lisa Ewing was honored as Big Sister of the Year in our Big For a Day program. Big For a Day (BFAD) is a program where women are matched with a girl on our wait list for a one-time Big Sister activity such as bowling, a dance class, a martial arts workshop, or a trip to the Aquarium. Big For a Day activities occur once a month on a Saturday. You can volunteer as little as twice a year or as often as once a month.

Guest Post by Marketing Intern, Molly Decker

Initially, what made you want to get involved with Big Sister?

I got involved in a program for mentoring middle school students for their science projects, in preparation for the local and state science fairs.  I enjoyed the program and began thinking I could do more.  I was working full time and going to school at night, so I wasn’t sure if I would have the time to be involved.  Then l learned about the Big For a Day program, and it seemed like a great fit.

How do you approach making connections with the new Little Sisters you get paired with at each event?

There’s often a lot of activities at the events, so if there are multiple games or arts and crafts projects, I just ask my Little Sister where they want to start.  If they’re still holding back a bit, I’ll  suggest we start at a particular activity and go from there.  I’m usually pretty excited to be doing any activity, and they usually pick up on my excitement.

What’s a favorite activity you’ve done with Big Sister and what makes it so memorable?

That’s hard to say – Big Sister always has such fun events.  The Halloween parties are a lot of fun – everyone dresses up in great costumes!  Especially the home-made theme costumes where matches create something together.  The Winter Wonderland party is a lot of fun – being in Faneuil Hall with the decorations and getting to decorate cookies. The sporting events at colleges are also a lot of fun.  As I said – it’s so hard to pick just one!

What’s something you’ve learned about yourself or about the world since becoming a part of Big For a Day?

I now understand that even if you don’t get to spend a tremendous amount of time with a girl, you can still make a difference in her life.

What would you say to women who are on the fence about applying to Big For a Day—any words of encouragement or advice?

I would say find a way to become involved.  Just call the office or search the website for opportunities.  It is a great experience, and you get back so much in return.  It means so much to the girls.  Just think back to when you were young. If you were lucky, you had a big sister or someone you could talk to about whatever was on your mind.  If not, wouldn’t you have liked to have that someone?  You can be that someone for a young girl.

If you’re interested in the Big For a Day program, check out the Big Sister website.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Guest Post by Marketing Intern, Molly Decker

Winter is here, and it’s definitely brought with it flurries, blizzards, and below freezing temperatures. If you’re at a loss for fun things to do with your Little Sister that won’t leave you more frozen than the Boston Common Frog Pond, look no further! Here’s a list of some fun winter activities around Boston.

Frog Pond

Boston Common Frog Pond

If you’re bundled up properly and the temperature is in the positives, it’s not such a bad idea to venture outside and try your hand at ice skating. For Little Sisters 13 and under, admission is free, and for the rest of us (who are still kids, just on the inside) it’s only $5. The pond is open to the public daily from 10am until 9pm or 10pm, depending on the day of the week, and skating with your Little Sister (or trying not to fall with your Little Sister!) is always a fun choice. For more information or to check if it’s open, check out bostonfrogpond.com.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

For Big and Little Sisters alike who are interested in history, the JFK Museum is an amazing place to spend the day. Open 7 days a week, this museum features films, recreated settings like JFK’s personalized Oval Office, and a special exhibit that gives insight into Jackie Kennedy, first lady and strong female role model. Admission pricing is as follows: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (62 and over) and students (with valid college ID), $9 for 13-17 year olds, and free for children 12 and under. For more information, check out the museum’s website.

food projectWinter “Grow Well, Eat Well” Workshops

Since 1991, The Food Project has built a national model of engaging young people in personal and social change through sustainable agriculture. What better way to engage young people than to participate in a workshop with your Little Sister! The “Eat Well” Workshops take place at The Food Project Kitchen in Dorchester, and the “Grow Well” Workshops take place at the Dudley Greenhouse in Roxbury. Advanced registration is required for most of the classes, but it’s worth checking out. If you’re interested, check out this flier and see what’s cooking!

Public Open Night at the BU Observatory

Look up at the stars through Boston University’s telescopes and while you’re at it, learn a thing or two about the night sky! Every winter Wednesday starting at 7:30pm, you’ll get a chance to use these telescopes and see what’s out there. The telescopes are outside so you’ll have to dress warmly, but seeing the sky with BU’s astronomy department is worth it. Weather conditions such as extreme cold and clouds can’t be helped, but check the BU Observatory’s Twitter or call them 2 hours before the event to see if it’s been canceled. Check the website to learn more.

bostonbowl1Boston Bowl

Go ahead and be Alley Cats for a day and have fun bowling with your Little Sister! Boston Bowl is located in Dorchester just off of I-93, and features Tenpin and Candlepin bowling, as well as games, food and pool tables once you’ve had your fill of bowling. Daytime bowling during the week is at a discounted price, so go after school until 6pm and have a ball!

Museum of African American History

With February comes Black History Month, and that makes this museum a great stop for those with a thirst for knowledge. It’s full of great exhibits including one through the end of February highlighting Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent figures of the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibits are housed in the Abiel Smith School, the first public school in the nation to serve black children. It’s open from 10am to 4pm Monday through Saturday, and children 12 and under get in for free. Check out their website to plan a visit!

paintbox1Boston Paintbox Tour

In an effort to lessen the vandalism of public utility boxes, Mayor Menino decided that promoting public art was the best solution. We now have, all over Boston and its surrounding communities, a series of painted utility boxes, painted by artists in their local area to make those necessary boxes beautiful. Here’s a further explanation of the project, and here’s a map of where around Boston you can find all of the boxes. They’re outside, but with the map, you can plan your trip around and not do too much excess walking. Plus, finding all of them is sort of like an art mystery, so you can show Sherlock Holmes how we girls do it.

Made By Me

For Big and Little Sisters who would rather make the art than go around looking for it, Made by Me pottery painting studio is a relaxed, fun atmosphere to do it in. You can work on a piece together, or you can choose you own individual pieces and paint side by side. The cost is the price of your pottery piece (they range from $3-$40, usually depending on size) and then $4 per half-hour per painter. It may seem on the expensive side, but on the plus side, you get to bring your kiln-fired piece home with you when it’s done! Check out their website for more info.

children's museumBoston Children’s Museum

Everybody loves to be a kid sometimes, and the Boston Children’s Museum is exactly where anyone can be one. It’s full of interactive exhibits and chances are you’ll be having so much fun, you’ll forget that you’re actually learning a lot. Admission is a bit pricey most days, but on Friday nights from 5pm-9pm, everyone gets in for $1, courtesy of Target, so take advantage of that. If you’re interested, you can see more at their website.

Open Art Thursdays at Roxbury BPL

For people who love art but aren’t so jazzed about pottery painting, there’s always the Boston Public Library. The Parker Hill Branch in Roxbury boasts Open Art Thursdays, which are open to all ages from 3pm-7pm every Thursday. They ask that you call ahead if you plan to come with a group, but they’ll always have fun, creative art projects for you there! It’s also always worth checking out the Master Calendar of Events for all the BPL branches, because they always have workshops and other fun things to do.

So what are you waiting for? Go out and have fun in the winter wonderland of Boston with your Little Sister!

Sheryl Sandberg Helps Women “Lean In”

Sheryl Sandberg

Guest Post by Marketing Intern, Molly Decker

It is essential for girls growing up today to have competent, caring, strong women to look up to and model themselves after. But for those girls interested in taking the business world by storm, we find ourselves with few women running the show, and even fewer who get recognized for their hard work in mainstream media. With all the women we have in our families, in our workplaces and schools, and in our day to day lives who do great things, we have to wonder why the representation of women in high-power positions is still so small. Where are our women leaders?

An article in last week’s New York Times suggests that Sheryl Sandberg, current Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, might have an answer.

Facebook is a social media company well-known and loved by just about anyone who’s over 13 and has access to a computer. With all the daily attention Facebook gets simply by being an open tab in most internet browsers for “study breaks”, and with the Facebook movie, The Social Network, showcasing of Mark Zuckerberg’s determination and sheer genius, one wonders why few know that the person right behind Zuckerberg in the chain of command is a strong, independent woman.

The article discusses Sandberg’s book, Lean In, which is due to be published later in 2013. In the book, she writes that while “chauvinism and corporate obstacles” definitely present an issue for women taking charge in the business market, women are too often socially conditioned to settle for what is given and in doing so, effectively hold themselves back.

Sandberg says, “We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives, the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve.”

This is something young girls can take to heart instead of the “negative messages”: just like having an emotion is not only for females, having a strong opinion is not only for males. We should use our strong voices and stand by our beliefs when we see changes that need to be made. We must share our ideas in group projects and in meetings. We need to let ourselves be heard.

ForbesWoman did a study in 2012 of America’s top 500 companies, and found that “there are now 20 female CEOs…[and] that paltry number (4%) is actually a record.” Why is that, when we are capable of achieving more? As women, if we continue to dream small or let the negatives messages affect us, we may never see a world where there are just as many women working as CEOs as there are men. So, we can’t be afraid of dreaming big. And more importantly, we must be assertive, and let ourselves turn those dreams into a reality.

What can you do to be more assertive? How can you support your friends when they speak up? What can you do to promote positive change in the way girls approach business? Leave a comment below.