Thursday, November 29, 2018

Always... show them what it means to perform 'like a girl'

I'd rather regret the risks that didn't work out,
than the chances I didn't take at all."
Simone Biles
You go girl! Simone Biles is not only one fierce athlete, she's also a great role model for young girls about strength, commitment and passion. Remember that famous Superbowl commercial in 2015 by Always that asked young people to do things “#LikeAGirl?”


The idea for that groundbreaking commercial was developed after Fama Francisco, vice president of Always, and her colleagues analyzed consumer research.  They found that young women experience a significant drop in self-confidence upon reaching puberty (Huffington Post, 2015). 


The Always commercial was powerful for many reasons – not only did it demonstrate the power of our words, but it also reminded us that these types of messages are learned and internalized over time. 


Young girls who were prompted with phrases such as “show me what it means to run like a girl” demonstrated running as fast as they could – they demonstrated actions with power, strength, and athleticism in every prompt.  However, older girls (and boys) given the same prompts did not show the same enthusiasm, but instead showed comedic attempts at completing the activities.


When femininity becomes synonymous with weakness, embarrassment, and fragility, it is no wonder Francisco and her team found these results among girls reaching what is commonly regarded as a significant symbolic marker of “womanhood”.


As demonstrated through the commercial, these messages can profoundly shape our perspectives on gender equality: when we treat girls and women as if they are weak and fragile, we begin to believe that they are inferior.  And as this perspective becomes reinforced over time through social norms and gendered expectations, violence against women and girls often becomes normalized, excused, and justified.


Intimate partner violence occurs when one person has the desire to gain or maintain power and control over their intimate partner.


While anyone can perpetrate or be a victim of intimate partner violence, this issue disproportionately affects women and girls because it is a manifestation of how, we as a society, view women and girls.


Ending relationship violence in our community requires a strong commitment to challenging and changing the social norms that allow relationship violence to continue.  


In conjunction with Coaching Boys Into Men, Wellspring coordinates a similar program for high school athletes on girls’ sports teams: Athletes As Leaders aims to empower female-identified youth to take an active role in promoting healthy relationships, build a positive culture within their team, and end sexual violence. Throughout their season, athletes discuss the root causes of violence and work to generate new social norms for their team, and their school community.


Results from a national evaluation on the efficacy of Athletes As Leaders are incredibly promising: after completion of the program, participants showed statistically significant improvement in their ability to identify abusive behaviors, improvement in their beliefs in gender equity, and increased self-image and confidence.


“Girls are, and can be, more than what stereotypes say.

You have a bigger voice than you think.”

–Participant, Athletes As Leaders


Ending relationship and sexual abuse starts with engaging our communities to change what it means to do things #LikeAGirl.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

What's Happening This October?

As many of you know, October is Domestic Violence awareness month – and last October there was a strong Purple Purse buzz flowing throughout Saratoga County. A buzz that resulted in our community raising more than $80,000 in one month for the families that Wellspring serves daily. Because of your generosity, Wellspring placed #3 in the nation… thank you! 

A lot of you have been asking about Purple Purse this year? Because of the amazing amount of time, effort, resources and support that you all showed Wellspring last year, we have decided to take a break from Purple Purse this year as a way of saying thank you. That being said, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to help us raise awareness about our mission and the work we do every day.  

We are always looking for community partners to help support our events – through sponsorship, tickets, and spreading the word to your families, friends, and colleagues. As the school year begins, we are eager for more community partners to engage in our Coaching Boys Into MenR and Athletes as LeadersR programs. In addition to that, we are always willing and excited to come to talk to anyone about our programs and services – whether it is your youth group, your book club, your sales team etc. we are here for you as a resource and friend. 

Our vision is a community free from relationship abuse – a vision that will only be made possible by the support of a community like ours. Thank you for all you have done and for all you continue to do. 
And because you folks really rocked October last year, let's have a throwback Thursday moment and revisit some photos of our Purple Purse Champions. Want to see all our Champions and hear their words about why they care so deeply about Wellspring's work? Just click here
And you don't want to miss two exciting events:

On September 29th grab a leash and your favorite pooch and join us in Congress Park for the kickoff to Domestic Violence Awareness Month at the 7th Annual Pooch Parade.

And call up your favorite gal friends and join us at Longfellows on October 11th for Girlfriends  Helping Girlfriends.

For more info on both events click here

Thursday, July 19, 2018

"You cannot silence the strong forever"

At last night’s ESPYS 140 survivors of sexual victimization joined hands as they accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on behalf of hundreds of child athletes who have been victimized. Their presence represented more than 30 years’ of violation. Olympic gymnast, Aly Raisman, cited the years that athletes tried to tell people about Larry Nassar’s abuse, and no one listened… 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. She noted their intent was to silence the athletes “in favor of money, medals, and reputation.” As the audience members stood in solidarity with the athletes, there were nods, tears, smiles of support… and a shared realization that we’ve entered an era when silencing victims isn’t acceptable.
Noting how much has been taken from the athletes, many just children when they represented their team, their support and their country. Former Michigan State softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez, noted that , “Tonight we stand here and it feels like we’re finally winning…. You cannot silence the strong forever.”
The athlete’s gave thanks for honoring their voices. I’d like to give thanks for their courage. Courage that has broken the code of silence and deception. Courage that has made us all understand. Courage that will create change so that other women, other athletes, other children may never experience the same violation and so that we all will realize our part in ending abuse. Raisman noted. “Predators thrive in silence; whether you act or do nothing you are shaping the world you live in.” She noted that if just one adult had listened, had believed, and had taken action…. the athletes standing on that stage… and many others…. would never have met Larry Nasser.
It’s a call to action to all of us.
Watch the powerful video here

Friday, June 29, 2018

#MeToo- What They Heard After Finding Their Voice

Yesterday's New York Times featured an article titled "How Saying #MeToo Changed Their Lives". It featured 20 men and women who spoke about about their  experiences of sexual assault or harassment and the positive, negative, unexpected, and healing emotions and interactions they encountered as a result of publicly saying #MeToo.

All over the nation, conversations are happening about formerly taboo topics, about social norms that we never questioned (even when they felt really uncomfortable and hurt people we cared about), and about what our personal role is in this highly charges social issue. 

Some people find liberation and support as they tell stories that they've kept secret for weeks, years or decades about being victimized. Some find confirmation as others say, "That sounds just like what he did to me." Other  experience judgments, "How did you let that happen to you?" Or isolation, "No one reached out" or "I was shunned in my workplace/career." Some begin to probe the depths of how their victimization and silence has affected their lives, "[it] opened up other issues that were exacerbated by the abuse, though not directly related. Issues such as my own sense of confidence, and why I was one of the ones chosen."

Or as Drew Dixon  stated to reporter Joe Coscarelli,  

It’s very hard as a black woman to call out powerful black men because we have no heroes to spare. We are always, still, fighting this uphill battle, always trying to overcome this myth of the predatory black man. So the last thing you want to do is contribute to that in any way. It’s complicated as a black woman — do you take it for the team? Which is what I did for 22 years. Or do you insist that you, too, deserve dignity, physical safety and respect? That was very hard for me and it’s literally why I kept the secret for all these years. I didn’t want to tear down a black man, let alone two. But what they did was wrong.

And many found strength, support and hope, like Deborah Harris who felt berated and humiliated by the sexual harassment. She stated,

After the article, my daughter posted on Facebook: ‘My mother, social justice warrior.’ I really kind of got elevated in her eyes. I’m proud of myself.

We honor the courage of the many women and men who have shared their personal experiences of victimization.  In order for change to happen these issues need to come out of the shadows and we need to hear  the pain and injustice that survivors have encountered... but hearing those stories an feel poignantly raw and real. If the recent media attention about issues of sexual  harassment has affected you or someone you know, call Wellspring we understand and we're here to help.
Office 518.583.0280
24 Hour Hotline 518.584.8188