Cheyenne McCall (12, HSU) has started the first female empowerment club at duPont Manual, which will hold its first meeting next Wednesday, Dec. 18. The club, officially named “Power Up,” aims to help girls come together and uplift not only themselves but each other.
“As a female, I’ve experienced the competition and issues that girls have between each other, usually for no apparent reason,” McCall said. “I want to break down those barriers and create a safe place where females can unite as one and learn how to uplift themselves as well as each other.”
Even though the club hasn’t yet had its first meeting, several Manual students are already interested in getting involved.
“I think it’s great that girls are trying to stand out in the world, because males are considered more dominant by a lot of people,” Meaghan Sutton (10, J&C) said.
The sponsor for the club is Ms. Jill Bickel, a new English teacher at Manual. For her, empowering young girls has always been important to her.
“I went to an all-girls high school that really fostered confidence in young girls, and I have some extremely strong female role models in my life. I am ever so grateful for this,” Ms. Bickel said. “However, other girls are not so lucky. I am appalled by how the media dictates beauty and by the misogynist messages about women that surround us on a daily basis. I pursued my second Masters degree in Women and Gender Studies at UofL because I have always wanted to fight gender inequality.”
The club aims at improving the relationship that girls have with themselves, each other, and the world.
“My goal is to build a foundation of unity amongst the female population at duPont Manual, while promoting self-growth and self-empowerment. My vision is to help build a sense of sisterhood amongst us females,” McCall said.
Ms. Bickel believes that low self esteem is a problem with most high school girls, including the ones at Manual.
“As a teacher, I see teenage girls every day who lack confidence and/or are overly dependent on others. What’s worse is that sometimes a sense of solidarity among girls is altogether absent. Girls (and guys) get caught up in gossip and the ‘he said, she said’ mentality and don’t always stand up for one another. The club is a way to raise awareness about issues of gender inequality and also provide a forum during which girls can discuss personal issues and feel safe and supported,” Ms. Bickel said.
Both Ms. Bickel and McCall hope “Power Up” will make a difference at Manual.
“If I can somehow help even one high school female realize that she has something valuable to contribute to society and that what she does matters significantly, I’ll sleep better at night,” Ms. Bickel said.
“ I want to be a platform for my peers, offering inspiration and the tools these girls need to uplift themselves as well as each other,” McCall said. “I’ve received so much positive feedback about starting this club, so I believe this is my calling. I may not be able to reach out to every single person, but as long as I can inspire just one, I’m satisfied.”