Monthly Archives: April 2013

April Big Sister Scene

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Boston_common_20060619Exploring Your Little Sister’s Neighborhood

Written by Erica Brien, Enrollment and Matching Specialist

Living in the Greater Boston area, Big and Little Sisters have the opportunity to take advantage of all that makes the City unique: the cobble stoned streets, street performers in Faneuil hall, festivals with live music in the summer, the Esplanade, and an array of cuisine, museums, theatres, art, and more. When planning your match visits, however, it is important to remember that the history, festivals and events that make Boston unique are not limited to downtown. In fact, there are many areas of the City that you and your Little Sister can explore, many of which may be in your Little Sister’s own backyard.

At Big Sister Association, we believe in a strengths-based approach to mentoring, meaning that we focus on the strengths of our Little Sisters and the positive aspects of their lives. As a Big Sister, you have the opportunity to celebrate these strengths with your Little Sister. You can empower your Little Sister to see the positive aspects of her life, build off them, and reach her full potential. An important aspect of this strengths-based approach is encouraging your Little Sister to feel connected to her community, and to take pride in where she lives.

Most of our Big and Little Sisters live in different neighborhoods.  Fifty-eight percent of our Little Sisters live in Dorchester, Roxbury, East Boston and Mattapan, compared to only 21% of our Big Sisters. Unfortunately, through the media, these communities receive unsparing negative attention that often overshadows the positive features they have to offer the Greater Boston community. These are neighborhoods rich in history and culture, but are oftentimes overlooked when appreciating Boston’s beauty and unique past.

As the spring and summer months approach, you have the opportunity to look into the community events, fun festivals and attractions in your Little Sister’s neighborhood. Read about the history of your Little Sister’s community and share it with her. Point out the historical sights and buildings as you walk or drive through her area.

Here are just a few ideas to start:

  • Dorchester contains the two oldest houses in Boston: the Blake House and the Pierce House. Also, if your Little Sister lives in the Dorchester area, visit Mother’s Rest Park at Four Corners, or go see a play at the Strand Theatre in Upham’s Corner.
  • East Boston’s waterfront allowed it to become the center for shipbuilding, and the arrival point for many Boston immigrants in the 1800’s. Today, East Boston offers a variety of authentic cuisine from the many cultures that call it home: Colombian, Peruvian, Vietnamese, Mexican, Italian, and more. You could also check out Piers Park in East Boston with your Little Sister, walk along the water front, and enjoy the view of Downtown Boston from across the harbor.
  • Hyde Park, during the civil war, was home to the Union Army’s largest training ground, preparing over 26,000 Massachusetts soldiers. If your Little Sister enjoys reading, take her to the Boston Public Library Hyde Park branch. The new Menino Wing won the A.I.A Design Excellence Award.
  • In May, take your Little Sister to the Wake up the Earth festival in the Southwest Corridor Park in Jamaica Plain (JP). JP is also home to three of the Emerald Necklace Parks (Jamaica Pond, the Arnold Arboretum and Franklin Park), as well as to the Footlight Club, the oldest community theatre in the United States.

For more information on your Little Sister’s neighborhood and events going on in her area, visit cityofboston.gov. There you can find Main Street Brochures that include popular restaurants and sites to see in each Boston neighborhood, along with complete written histories. Your Match Support Specialist is another excellent resource for creative, fun ways to explore your Little Sister’s community.

Upcoming Big Sister Events

A Day in the Life of a College Student

Simmons College, Boston

Saturday, April 13

1:00pm-4:00pm

Learn from current Simmons College Students about their experiences attending college, hear about the application and financial aid processes, and visit a stimulation lab that nursing students use! This event is appropriate for Little Sisters in Grades 9 through 12 or Little Sisters who are past grade 12 are interested in attending college. This event will be focused on the health care field.

2012_Big_sister_082Appreciation Breakfast

Royal Sonesta Hotel, Cambridge

Saturday, April 27

10:00am-12:00pm

You will walk the red carpet, have the opportunity to receive one of five “Big Awards”, and see a live dance performance by              The Braintree Ballet!

RSVP to Jennifer Perrone at jperrone@bigsister.org or (617) 236-8366.

photo 21Real Choices, Strong Voices

For more information on the next Real Choices, Strong Voices workshop, email Margot Phelps at mphelps@bigsister.org.

Be sure to “like” our Facebook page to hear about ticket opportunities for you and your Little Sister. Past ticket opportunities include Patriots tickets, Red Sox tickets, museum tickets, and plays.

Bright Young Girls or “Bright Young Things”?

Victoria Secret

Guest Post by Marketing Intern, Molly Decker

At Big Sister, we pride ourselves on staying up-to-date about gender-specific marketing; marketing strategies could not be more gender-specific than those of Victoria’s Secret: a corporation famous for their bras and underwear, and most recently for the popularization of their PINK line. PINK is Victoria’s Secret’s line for their younger 15-22 year-old demographic. However, Victoria’s Secret has gone younger.  Victoria’s Secret has recently come out with a line called “Bright Young Things,” otherwise known as PINK’s Spring Break collection. Bright Young Things features, among other things, underpants that have “Wild”, “Call Me”, “Dare You”, and “Feeling Lucky” printed on the back (or the front, in cases of the thong). Not only are they covered with sexualized phrases, they are cut in familiar Victoria’s secret styles of “cheeky hipster,” “lace trim thong,” and “The Date Panty.”

When a tween or teen girl sees her peers wearing PINK merchandise, few things will make her want it more than getting a “no” paired with a “because I said so” from her parents and mentors. This is why it is not enough to ask that Victoria’s Secret simply eliminate the collection. PINK will still be there. This is why it is not enough to tweet at Victoria’s Secret that this collection is unacceptable and leave it at that. The fact is, no matter how hard we try, young girls will continue to see these sexualized media messages, through other advertisements.

We need to educate these young girls.

Maybe they are daughters. Maybe siblings. Maybe they are our Little Sisters. Regardless, they need to know that when their parents, teachers, Big Sisters, and other mentors tell them to think critically about the messages on the backs of these underpants, it is not because we do not want them to be popular, or because we do not want them to succeed. On the contrary, we want them to succeed more than they know. We want them to succeed in finding relationships with people who will hear “call me” after a conversation about mutual likes and common goals, not see it on the front of their thongs. We want them to know that while Victoria’s Secret may see them as Bright Young Things, we see them as Bright Young Girls, and that alone makes a difference.

So the next time a young girl in your life asks why you think she shouldn’t choose “Wild” underwear, talk to her about why she feels she needs them. Talk to her about the social and media pressure she may be feeling. Encourage her to come to terms with her body and what she wants to do with it on her own terms, not her friends’ terms, or Victoria’s Secret’s terms. Teach her that success is not about what she wears, but what she knows and where she goes with that knowledge.

What are your feelings about Victoria’s Secret’s marketing campaign? How do you respond to the overwhelming pressure of the media? Do you have any advice for Big Sisters who don’t know how to begin that conversation? Leave a comment below.