'Girl Up' gains ground at Quaker Valley
Quaker Valley High School students have united en masse to stand up for girls in need across the world.
Just three months after launching Quaker Valley's branch of the United Nations Foundations' “Girl Up” club, more than 50 students at the school have come together, brainstorming ways to raise money and awareness for girls across the world in need of better education, a safe place to live and a healthy life.
“There are girls in a certain situation and it's not a good situation,” said co-founder Josephine Parsons, 16, a junior.
“It makes us feel like we are so privileged, and we need to use that to help other girls. It's about uniting girls together for a cause.”
Olivia Lehman, 17, a junior at Quaker Valley, learned about “Girl Up” while attending Sewickley Academy from first through ninth grade. She watched the passion students at the private Edgeworth school had for helping girls in other countries through the United Nations program.
When coming to Quaker Valley High School last year, Lehman said she wanted to bring the program she became so passionate about to the school.
This year, being more familiar with Quaker Valley, it was time to act.
She brought the idea to her friends and soccer and lacrosse teammates.
With the help of Parsons, the two launched the club, utilizing social media and fliers hanging throughout the hallways.
They got the support of school administrators and — to their surprise — the first meeting filled the school library with wall-to-wall students — both boys and girls.
“I was honored to see a room packed with so many people passionate about what I'm passionate about,” Lehman said.
Nearly every student who joined has taken an active role in the club, because the topic — supporting girls in need — is something they're each so passionate about, Parsons said.
“Girl Up,” with 1,800 clubs around the world, raises money, educates and advocates for girls in need of education, safety, health and just being counted as people in their countries.
The foundation focuses on Guatemala, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, India and Uganda.
The Quaker Valley club plans to host several fundraisers this year, starting with “cookie grams” that students will be able to send to their peers on International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
They hope to go big and by years end, maybe have an event that brings out others from the community for the cause.
“It's a big deal when you're part of something so big,” Parsons said. “I see what's going on around me, and I'm a 16-year-old. I don't always feel like I can have a say and a voice. But this lets me make a difference.”
Club sponsor Jennifer Matthews said it's rewarding to watch her students lead a club with such a large impact.
“They want to be part of something bigger than their day to day lives. This is way for them to contribute,” she said.
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.