Friday, February 12, 2010

Club Highlight: Sister Action Sister Stregnth

Dozens of clubs have been meeting weekly since the start of the school year. Among these is Sister Action Sister Strength, better known as SASS. Every Monday, a positive community of about 15 teenage women gather to openly discuss real issues of importance to them. Club leader Kara Johnson had this to say:

Can you please describe the focus of the SASS Club?
Sister Action Sister Strength (SASS) is an initiative of the DC Rape Crisis Center. Its primary task is to conduct clubs for adolescent girls where they can explore relationships in a context that challenges the views of femininity and engages them in exercises that allow them to define various means of self-expression and communication. They will explore power dynamics and how those dynamics may influence them and contribute to the culture of violence. We will use such tools as media analysis, facilitated dialogue, and team-building exercises that will culminate in an outreach activity to the community around the prevention of rape and sexual assault during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). They will also have an opportunity to engage in activities with Men Can Stop Rape’s MOST clubs.

How and why did the SASS club develop? How long has TMA had an active SASS club?
The SASS club was developed four years ago by our Community Education Department based on the need for a program like this, the many requests we got for this and through our desire to provide such programs. Originally we started with only high schools, but this year we have expanded to middle schools as well.

SASS Club has been at Thurgood Marshall Academy for a couple of years and we have always received a lot of support from the school.

As a facilitator, please describe some challenges in leading the SASS club?
One of the challenges is getting everyone involved and help them experience what they need to experience individually. We go over some tough topics that aren’t openly talked about in society so sometimes the girls have a hard time opening up, but after trust is built within the group the girls share more and more.

The DC Rape Crisis Center has always had some difficulties getting into the school systems, but there are plenty of passionate teachers and counselors that are willing to work with us to give the girls this experience.

What insights have our TMA students given to you?
Running the SASS club at TMA is something that I look forward to every week. I really hold a lot of respect for the girls that attend. I admire their drive for learning new things and openly talking about topics that are something hard to talk about. Many if not all of the girls have self-confidence which shows me that I can be more self-confident about myself too.

Thanks to Kara and the DC Rape Crisis Center for the leadership and commitment to the students of TMA! Look for more club highlights soon!

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