During my sophomore year of high school, I realized that many girls my age felt discouraged from speaking up or holding leadership roles throughout my community. When I participated in debate conferences, many of the female students were quieter; and when I took classes in computer science, there were few other girls in the room.
Gender disparities always stood out to me as an important issue for all young people to discuss. However, as I wondered why my female peers did not participate in certain fields as often as their male counterparts, I realized that such differences likely stemmed from their experiences as young girls. Perhaps, with a clear mission and supportive friends to help, I could work to change that.
As someone who has always loved stories, I thought reading to elementary schools to promote women in leadership roles would be an excellent idea, and began to research picture books to share with the younger students. I soon discovered books I had never read as a young girl— stories about female doctors, engineers, and astronauts. Stories that, when combined with interactive activities and heartfelt discussions, could help girls and boys alike recognize that people can work to overcome any societal limitations they may encounter.
I visited my school principal and discussed forming a new club, Books and Bridges. After organizing a leadership team, finding an advisor, and recruiting a large number of students from my high school, we read to all of our local elementary schools— spanning from our small town in Massachusetts to those in other nearby communities.
However, as we grew larger and larger around our small suburban county, I realized that I had visited most of the nearby schools, and needed to expand in order to continue reading. I then decided to register our group as an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and we are now expanding our mission to places we previously thought impossible.
As of now, we have read to schools as far as Seattle, and we plan to hold more reading sessions in the coming months. With the support of my parents, my friends, and my teachers and school administration, I hope to lead Books and Bridges, Inc. for many years to come.
Starting this organization has not only taught me how to inspire change for young girls, but that everyone can make a difference in recognizing women in leadership roles. To learn more information, contribute a donation, or reach out to participate, please visit the Books and Bridges website today.
About the Author:
Kaitlyn Donato is a high school student from Winchester, MA. In her sophomore year, Kaitlyn recognized that there were too few magazines focused on writing for and by young women, and decided to create The Alcott Youth Magazine. With the magazine, she hopes to publish inspirational writing for all young people to enjoy.