Emily Coffin chosen as National Child Awareness Month Ambassador
Emily Coffin, a senior at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg, was recently chosen as a National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador by Youth Service America and Festival of Children Foundation. Her community service project, Professional Sisters, or PROSIS, was inspired by Vermont Works for Women’s Enough Said report and Navicate’s LEAD IN program. Her project will create a series of workshops about how to create positive female networks among middle and high school girls.
What finding caught your attention in VWW’s Enough Said report?
Fostering positive peer relationships stood out to me, as a response to the claim that allies and supportive networks were scarce. High school can be hard, especially when girls aren’t comfortable being themselves – to accept and support their female peers. This response is something that young women need to be proactive about because I believe it is crucial to developing individual as well as collaborative success.
Why was the LEAD IN program powerful for you?
Being ambitious is something to be proud of, not ashamed of! The women who had the biggest impact on me were my fellow LEAD IN participants. I can’t identify another environment with an energy that was as supportive and positive, and I looked forward to every month’s career workshop.
Where did you get the idea to create the Professional Sisters project for middle school girls?
The transition to high school is challenging and what’s anticipated is what girls pick up from watching the movie “Mean Girls.” Although that is an exaggeration, it isn’t far off from the behavior that all girls are expected to endure. By opening up the discussion before the transition to high school, girls can become more aware of how they treat others and how they are being treated. We will encourage them to identify allies and mentors and establish supportive networks of peers who value their ambitions.
What do you hope PROSIS will accomplish?
I hope it will inspire girls to advocate for themselves and to feel they are capable of changing the way girls are treated. I also hope it will help girls realize that ambition, creativity and leadership should be celebrated, not suppressed.
How will the network be set up and function?
The workshops will be facilitated by a team of CVU upper-class females, and the duration will be about an hour-and-a-half. We are hoping to schedule six workshops this year, two at CVU for the incoming freshmen girls and one at each sending middle school to CVU. There will also be a lot of online activity, including a Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, and online blog.
What does it mean to be selected as a National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador?
As a Youth Ambassador, I will travel this month to Washington, DC for a three-day leadership training on Capitol Hill. I have also been awarded a $1,000 grant to fund my project, as well as receiving support and networking opportunities through Youth Service America.
What’s your advice to young women struggling with peer aggression among their friends and acquaintances?
My advice is to truly channel your inner fearlessness. This can be used in many ways, especially when it comes to making hard decisions that in the end, are much more beneficial to your health and happiness. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself or pursue that crazy thing that deep down you’ve always wanted. Strive to impress yourself and no one else, take risks and be determined.
Follow Emily’s PROSIS project on Instagram and Twitter: @prosisVT