Strength & Empowerment: A Chat About Girls' LEAP

July 07, 2016

Kathleen and Allie

Kathleen Melendy '18 and Allie Lamb '18 filled us in on why they love Girls' LEAP!

What's your major at Simmons?

Kathleen: I'm majoring in women's and gender studies and minoring in principled leadership.

Allie: I'm in the 3+3 Exercise Science and Doctorate of Physical Therapy program.

What made you choose your major?

K: Women's and gender studies is so interdisciplinary  — pulling in economics, history, public health, political science and so much more. I'm super passionate about the ways in which structural and institutional misogyny still permeates society. I feel lucky that I frequently get fired up in class.

A: I'm passionate about being active and want to share that with other people. I was drawn to physical therapy after seeing how detrimental injuries could be. I wanted to be able to help people recover.

Tell us about your role with Girls' LEAP.

K: I'm the Recruitment and Reflection Coordinator for the Simmons Chapter of Girls’ LEAP. In our weekly meetings, I lead the social justice-themed curriculum which asks our teachers to think about the identities and privileges they hold that help and hinder their ability to connect with program participants. I'm also in charge of recruiting and interviewing new Teaching Women!

A: I'm the Curriculum and Development Student Coordinator of the Simmons Chapter. I co-lead the weekly chapter meetings with Kathleen, cover the reflective curriculum we teach in programs and facilitate sessions on learning different skills that help us improve our abilities to teach the girls in programs. I'm also a Teaching Woman, which means that I help to teach our curriculum to girls in the Boston area.

What made you get involved with Girls' LEAP?

K: If you couldn’t tell already, I really love working with women and girls. So when I got to Simmons, I signed up for anything remotely related! I went to the Girls’ LEAP training and fell in love with the mission of empowerment. LEAP is truly unique because it combines physical and emotional self-defense while simultaneously fostering intergenerational relationships.

A: I transferred to Simmons — so I attended the Connections Carnival hoping to find an organization to get involved with. I loved the mission of Girls’ LEAP to empower girls and women and give them the tools they need to keep themselves physically and emotionally safe.

Why are girl serving organizations like Girls' LEAP so important?

K: We all know about the horrific statistics of gender-based violence. Less tangibly, I think that girls are not taught to value themselves in the same way boys are. At the beginning of each program, participants struggle to raise their voices, say no and hit with power. By the end, we see girls shouting no at the top of their lungs and hitting us with all of their strength. 

Girls don’t believe they're strong because society tells them to shrink their bodies and minds. Girls’ LEAP — and many girl-serving organizations — help participants take up space and empower them to champion their own wellbeing. What could be more important than that?

A: I really just have to second what Kathleen said about this. When I see girls change throughout a program from being timid and afraid to standing up for themselves and being confident, powerful and ready to fight for their own safety, I know that organizations like Girls’ LEAP are necessary and meaningful.

What's your Simmons Moment?

K: The annual Bread and Roses event put on by the Women's and Gender Studies Department. It commemorates the 1912 women-led textile strikes in Lawrence, MA. I was so lucky to be asked to participate this year to present on Girls’ LEAP!

This moment captured so many things that I love – the Women's and Gender Studies Department, my friends/family and sharing LEAP. I got to talk about why Girls’ LEAP is so important and why everyone else should love it just as much as I do. The passion in the room was truly inspiring and I felt reaffirmed that this is what I am supposed to be doing.

A: I participated in Simmons World Challenge my second year. The topic was centered around violence — an issue we talk about a lot at Girls’ LEAP. It was inspiring to see a group of people from all different majors and backgrounds working together to create ideas that addressed very different facets of violence. It was through this experience that I knew I was at a school where I was surrounded by students who want to make a difference.

From left: Kathleen Melendy and Allison Lamb