Let us walk! Youth address street harassment

Let Us Walk: Girls Against Street Harassment
Over the spring (2016), through a partnership between the Art of Growing Leaders and the Camp Sojourner Girls’ Leadership Camp, a group of youth participants launched the “Let Us Walk” social action project using guerilla-style art and community activism to voice their thoughts and opinions on street harassment. As part of the project, the group created a series of “Let Us Walk” stickers – which aptly employed emojis to illustrate street harassment scenarios – and distributed the colorful designs at local events to help raise awareness and generate community-wide discussion about the effects of the harassment on girls.

The group’s first awareness day took place on Saturday, April 30th, as part of the Fourth Annual Sojourner Truth Walk where more than 220 people walked together in the streets, spreading positive images of girls’ and women’s leadership. The positive and immediate impact on passersby and the group’s members led to a second awareness day on Saturday, June 18th, at the Uhuru Flea Market at Clark Park in West Philadelphia.

The youth group also incorporated a short anonymous survey for youth and adults to share their thoughts and opinions about why street harassment happens, common reactions and what the community should do to help address the issue. A response from a survey participant on how they feel about comments being made towards them on the street outlined a familiar position for many of the respondents:

I hate it. I’m just trying to go about my day, y’know.
– anonymous survey participant

Supporting Dialog and Discovery
The Art of Growing Leaders/Camp Sojourner team’s social action project was also featured by Stop Street Harassment (SSH), a nonprofit organization dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide. The SSH Let Us Walk! Stickers Against Street Harassment story shares an example of the joint campaign leading to new dialog between a mother and daughter on street harassment. Read the SSH Blog

The impact of the street harassment campaign and the Art of Growing Leaders program was also felt by members and leaders of the project. “Girls were deeply moved by the experience and asked for future opportunities to work with ArtWell. Also, the stickers they created this spring were a great way to put their ideas out into the world and have them feeling concrete results of their efforts,” said Alisha Berry, Camp Sojourner Executive Director.

One young participant had this to say about the campaign and program experience:

I used to think being a leader was controlling everyone, but now I know that being a leader requires listening to others.

 

Art of Growing Leaders 2015/2016 program funded by the Lenfest Foundation and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund Youth Arts Enrichment Grant