Texting and sexting, school violence, drug abuse, car accidents, pregnancy. Teens – including teenage girls – all too often make the News because of their problems and failures.
Yet throughout history, there have been young women, like Joan of Arc, who are remembered for extraordinary personal accomplishments.
Just a few months ago, Melanie Oudin, a 17-year-old tennis player, burst onto the scene by producing a solid showing at both the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. Or what about Taylor Swift, who after going platinum with her first album at age 16, is now so popular that tickets for her concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden sold out in one minute?
Both of them discovered their passion at a young age and have devoted themselves to achieving their goals. Swift began knocking on doors at record-label offices on Nashville’s Music Row at age 11, and Oudin gave up a normal high school experience for home schooling to fit in around her rigorous training schedule.
And then there’s Michala Riggle, and Tori Cannon.
Haven’t heard of them? They are teenage girls who have found their passion and taken the lead in changing their world.
Authors Claudia Mitchell and Kim Goad introduce them to us through the Life of One Girl Can Change the World, a new book and Life with teenage girls that helps a young woman to find her passion and then to develop her leadership skills to accomplish what God has uniquely created her to do.
“We believe it is an honor to be about the work of inspiring the next generation of leaders, and we truly believe one girl can change the world,” they write. “One Girl Can Change the World is all about showing girls how. It’s about bringing young women to the understanding that they are leaders. It’s about reminding them that they have a specific role to play in impacting the world, inspiring them to discover their passions and leadership styles, and empowering them to effectively carry out their purposes.”
Tori Cannon is a teen whose heart breaks for the needs of others. She has been raising funds for the needy around the world since she was a child, including taking on the task of providing shoes for those in developing countries. In one project, she filled an entire garage full of usable shoes and sent them with short-term missionary workers who could deliver them to those who needed them.
Michala Riggle is inspired to raise funds for autism research, specifically to build a research facility in Louisville. Sound a bit lofty? By mid-2009, this 12-year-old from Louisville had raised more than $300,000 by selling bracelets through her charity called Beading to Beat Autism
(www.beadingtobeatautism.org). In addition to the fistful of awards she’s already garnered, she’s been interviewed on television shows that include Good Morning America and the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and was featured in American Girl magazine.
“Teenage girls combine the energy and passion of youth with hearts mature enough to see needs in their communities and the world,” said Kim Goad. “Yet they lack the maturity and skills to put it all together to see how they can indeed make a difference.”
In their new book, One Girl Can Change the World (Standard Publishing), Mitchell and Goad help girls to first discover how unique and precious they are to God, then to think through their own interests to find their passion. They further encourage girls to write a mission statement, look for a mentor and develop an action plan for what they want to achieve.
They also challenge these young women to live and grow as Christian women and leaders. They provide inspiring examples of young women who have changed the world, introducing world changers from the Bible, from history and from down the street.
They also lace the book with fun, and with concepts girls can relate to.
Like shoes. Girls understand how the right shoes are critical for being prepared for the tasks ahead. Mitchell and Goad talk about “getting your shoes on” as preparation for action.
Or how about a good skin care regimen as a metaphor for consecration? Those steps of cleansing off the dirt, exfoliating to slough off dead parts and then drenching with nourishment are remarkably similar, whether you are cleaning your face or your soul. Once squeaky clean, you are ready for drenching nourishment, whether moisturizer or God’s word.
But one of their most beloved and fun exercises is their signature concept of the Lollipop Leadership style.
As Claudia says, “You can tell a lot about a girl by the way she eats a lollipop.” She goes on to discuss the many methods and what they reveal about the person.
Some people take just a few licks at a time, carefully placing the lollipop back on the paper wrapper in between. Others twirl the lollipop in their mouth, while still others chomp right down to the stick.
The chompers are young women who believe in taking action, taking risks if necessary to meet challenging goals. Savers prolong the experience with careful licks. In life they are great with handling resources and making careful decisions to help others. And twirlers are creative motivators who dream big.
Fun as it is, the Lollipop Leadership styles help girls discover who they are and help them accept differences in others.
“God made you the way you are for a reason, and he intends to use your particular style to accomplish his will. So embrace who you are and learn to compensate for your weaknesses,” they write. “But when you step up to the plate to lead, you’ll likely find yourself working with people who are not exactly like you. These differences are good things, but they can lead to challenges, too.”
They conclude, “God uses all sorts of unique individuals to change the world.”
One Girl Can Change the World materials include a journal as well as a leader’s guide. The material is suitable for small group use, a weekend retreat, a week of camp – or personal study.
For more than 140 years, Standard Publishing has been raising the standard for true-to-the-Bible resources that educate, encourage and enrich. The company is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, where it was founded in 1866.
For more information, visit Beading to Beat Autism www.beadingto beatautism.org or www.standardpub.com.