Aileen is a leader and advocate for the things that matter most to her. A graduating senior, Aileen has attended Girls Inc. of Worcester (MA) for the past five years. With the help of strong mentors, Aileen has found her voice and cultivated a strong awareness of issues affecting girls like her. She has found what she truly cares about, which is education.
In January, the Worcester School Department proposed a new sex ed curriculum based on the Michigan Model of Health, which is not medically accurate nor comprehensive. When Aileen learned of the proposed curriculum, she was angry and shocked at the lack of LGBTQ, sexual consent, and mental health education. She felt like the public school system in her town was letting her and her peers down and knew she had to do something about it.
Through Girls Inc., Aileen received healthy sexuality programming that provided accurate information on sexual health, reproduction and healthy relationships, and grounded in the foundational belief of girls’ rights and abilities. She felt that Girls Inc. had stepped in when her school couldn’t provide the education she and her peers wanted and needed. In fact,Worcester schools have never taught comprehensive sex education.
After hearing about the proposed sex ed curriculum, Aileen attended the Worcester school board meeting to make sure she was fully educated on the topic. She then turned to her mentors at Girls Inc. to see if they could offer any advice or support moving forward.
“[At Girls Inc,] I’ve had the most wonderful mentors, and in communication with these mentors I’ve been able to learn how to be a leader,” said Aileen.
Aileen asked the staff at Girls Inc. of Worcester to support efforts to compel the local school department to not adopt the Michigan Model of Health. As a result, Girls Inc. and local community partners have been speaking up against this model, in solidarity and support of girls like Aileen and her peers.
The Worcester school board is still making a decision on whether to pass and implement the proposed curriculum. But with the advocacy of leaders like Aileen, hopefully decision makers will understand how imperative comprehensive sex education is.
Aileen doesn’t plan for her advocacy to stop here. She hopes to study political science as well as English and history in college, so that she can learn how to advocate for equitable education. One day, she hopes to work in the field of education, whether that means teaching, working in the administration, building curriculum or even serving as the Secretary of Education one day.