The beautiful pink box arrived in the mail the week before we left and I had thrown it into my bag in the off chance we might have downtime to try it out. Now I was trapped alone inside a small cabin with two 13-year-old girls. We were stuck inside for two straight days in one of the biggest snowstorms the Sierra Mountains had seen in years.
We had run out of movies and had exhausted our card games, charades, and sing-a-longs during the frequent power outages. I had forgotten about that pink box. But now I was staring at its cover - Find Your Drive- a girls leadership workshop empowering girls to become leaders of social change. I thought, what the heck. We’re so stir crazy they just might go for it even on vacation.
And go for it they did.
At first, I figured it was the boredom, or maybe it was the beautiful packaging that looked as fun and inviting as a board game. But I think the real reason they jumped right in was that they were excited by the social-change aspect of the workshop.
This fits with current research. Girls love championing a cause and the Girls Driving for a Difference crew know it. They smartly use it as the motivating factor to getting middle school girls out of their comfort zone and out leading.
I usually teach girls how to code, but I’ve realized girls don’t want to learn programming “just because”... they want to use the technology to do something. The GDD workshop helped us ask girls, “What kind of problem do you want to solve?” And now the girls have a reason to keep coding.
— Gigi Read, Director of Chrysalis Girls Camp
As the GDD mission states:
“Between childhood and womanhood, girls encounter a phenomenon known as "losing voice," according to studies published by Harvard University."
"74% of 12-year-olds surveyed by Girl Scouts of America list "improving the world around me" as one of their favorite activities, but a lack of confidence holds them back from taking leadership in the areas of change they care most about.Only 1/3 of middle-school girls today believe they can be a leader.”
Getting girls to bridge the gap from doubting they can be a leader to leading social change they care about, is what this workshop aims to do.
It all started after two Stanford students helped design and coach a maker workshop for elementary school students. On the way home, they wondered how they could bring design thinking to girls leadership. The spark was in asking their own motivational prompt: “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” They brought in two other female partners and the four young women decided they wanted to help middle-school girls solve the following questions:
“What kind of change do you want to create in the world?” and “How can you begin to achieve that dream today?”
This workshop kit is their labor of love after an incredible Kickstarter campaign and a 14 week round-the-country RV trip last summer hosting 55 workshops.
All this prototyping and testing shines through. On top of the effective and practical exercises to get a group of girls to answer these questions, the affordable kit is full of fun exercise and game ideas. The beautiful cards and handouts make girls leadership “cool.” I only wish I had the ten girls the kit called for.
So what was in the kit?
The process is so intuitive, you could easily follow these steps with your own daughter.
1. The girls brainstorm problems they see in both their hometowns and in the world. These can range from teasing on the school playground to the world’s poverty problem. After the brainstorming dust settles and after all the Post-its are up, the girls chose the issue they were most passionate about.
2. Turning their problem into an opportunity statement. This isn’t as easy as it sounds and the kit provides lots of guidance. One example they give is changing the problem of “Negative Body Image” to “Girls Feel Confident In Their Own Skin.”
3. Discovering their activity strengths. Activity strengths are things like math, soccer or coding. The kit provides a big stack of strengths to flash up in front of the girls to see which one's feel the most like them. Girls tend to shy away from tooting their own horn. This activity was fun and created a lot of laughs. The girls were more honest when a strength was held up, rather than being forced to come up with their own strengths. That, undoubtedly, would have felt like bragging. There were also several important strengths that the girls probably wouldn’t have come up with on their own like Volunteering, Researching or Teaching.
4. Transitioning from skill strengths to personal strengths. The girls discovered these by identifying their leadership style. The kit provided a quick quiz with fun questions such as: “You’re a superhero and your city is in danger from an evil villain! How do you save the day?” Based on their answers, they were assigned one of four leader styles and the strengths that accompanied that style. However, as in life, the girls had more than one style. Both girls had a dominant style with a strong runner up.
The Four Leader Styles Were:
• Steering Wheel (visionary/motivating purpose)
• Engine (task progress & results)
• Open Window (upholding group unity)
• Radio (tune into and give attention to individuals on a team)
5. Putting it all together. They were tasked with taking one of their strongest Leader Strengths and one of their Activity Strengths and combining it with their social change opportunity.
This allowed them to create a personal mission statement.
It took a little extra work in my daughter’s case to line up the activity strengths with her opportunity statement. She kept trying to force her favorite activity of soccer into the formula and she ended up stumping herself. I encouraged her to open up to some of her other activity strengths which were a better fit.
To wrap things up, the girls huddled up to help each other brainstorm actions they could do immediately to bring their mission to life. Making a plan gave the girls energy and motivation to go away with something achievable.
The power came back on before we were finished but the girls didn’t care. They wanted to complete the workshop.
Once they had their mission statements complete, they were so excited they taped them to the bathroom mirror we were all sharing. I tucked the kit back into my bag and hoped that the Girls Driving For A Difference mission was accomplished. Could they now see themselves as a leader fighting to improve the world?
For the world’s sake, I sure hope so.