High school SAGE (Students Advocating Gender Equality) students began hosting workshops for fourth and fifth-graders last May and throughout the month of November. SAGE focuses on advocacy activities within our community and the workshops, titled Breaking Barriers, largely focused on gender equality. SAGE members Anna Milstein (grade 12), Zen Suzuki (grade 12) and Cora Eaton (Grade 11) write on their visits to the elementary school.
Members of SAGE recently held a number of workshops with fourth and fifth-graders with the goal of discussing gender equality with younger kids and hopes to eliminate gender stereotypes and norms that may form in their growing minds. We want to support students to live their most authentic selves and teach them to embrace diversity at a young age. Though our focus is primarily on gender equality, we ultimately want to equip the children with the tools and language to recognize and celebrate all forms of diversity in others and themselves.
The workshops centered around the theme of “breaking barriers.” During elementary school, kids are really learning about friendship and other people. We wanted to encourage the kids to be friends with whoever makes them happy, and do whatever makes them happy, regardless of stereotypes. The elementary school students responded well to our message and were excited to participate as they thought hard about the topics we guided them through.
We also hoped these presentations would encourage students to pursue their passions, interests and new friendships. As the fourth and fifth-graders listened very attentively they were also eager to volunteer their insightful remarks and questions. We, as high schoolers, were truly impressed with the sophistication of the points raised, making it a valuable learning experience for us too. Our advisor, Ms. Krauth (high school teacher) remarked, “Working with the elementary school students not only makes us more of a community, but also raises awareness of how limiting gender roles can be not only for younger children but for all of us. We hope to continue this program for many years to come.”
We look forward to continuing these workshops to connect with these future change makers.