MISSION STATEMENT: The Sister-to-Sister Connection of WNY, a project of the American Association of University Women and particularly the Buffalo Branch of AAUW in conjunction with many community organizations, strengthens girls’ voices and identifies actions and that promote better opportunities for all youth.
VISION: The community should recognize the Sister-to-Sister Connection as a coalition of community organizations, schools, agencies and businesses dedicated to improving the lives of girls.
- To address issues that impede girls’ personal, academic and career successes.
- To actively promote the inclusion and involvement reflective of the rich diversity of the WNY community.
- To undertake strategies that lead to lasting change in institutions as well as in their individual lives.
- Secure sufficient sources of funding.
- Pursue a membership of agencies, individuals, and organizations interested in helping girls to succeed.
- Establish a governing board and develop bylaws.
The Sister-to-Sister Connection of WNY Inc. is dedicated to providing unique educational opportunities for teen girls from varied backgrounds and perspectives to address the challenges and common issues they face and to recommend actions to affect change in their schools and communities.
Sister-to-Sister focuses 90% of it efforts and funding around the yearly Summit for girls. The Summit is an intensive day of programming focused on issues specific to pre-teen and teenage girls. Activities at past Summits have included interactive theater, discussion session, special activities and speakers. Major focus topics include relationships, school pressure, peer pressure, body image, teen pregnancy, racism, drug abuse, and stress. Special activities have included various ethnic dance groups, a non-traditional job fair, teen reality theater, campus tours, web page design, and many others. Comments received from surveys returned at the end of the Summit include:
“Can’t wait till next year”
“Very good female learning experience”
“It was really open”
“I learned tons about other people and their lives and surroundings”
The “chat rooms” not only focus on problems and issues, but the facilitators also encouraged the young women to work on ways to resolve problems in their lives.
The Summit furthers the purpose of Sister-to-Sister by providing a venue where girls ages 11-18 can come together to concentrate on issues important to their individual and collective understandings. They feel safe and encouraged, and the freedom that comes from this environment allows them a unique opportunity for honest dialogue among their peers. The sense of community is strong as is the sense of purpose that permeates the entire day. The young women know that they are the focus of the event and they are very open about themselves and supportive of each other. Young women leave the Summit empowered by the intensive experience and more able to address real issues that affect them in their schools and communities.
We started a mentoring project with several women’s groups in the community last spring and plan to continue this project. We would also like to develop a resource for girls, parents, organizations, and agencies that would list all the activities in WNY that pertain to young women. We have found that there are many programs available and we need to share this information and to encourage the development of partnerships to work to better the lives and education of young women.