Category Archives: creativity

The Bruises and Kisses Our Bodies Don’t Show: ACT Mannequin Art Project on Teen Dating Violence Prevention

By Kathleen Wong, 18, California

Art created by ACT Against Teen Dating Violence

Advocating Change Together (ACT) is a peer health advocacy program at Girls Incorporated of Alameda County, California. ACT has chosen to advocate for the cause of teen dating violence prevention because this is an issue that seriously impacts our communities and youth.

Teen dating violence is defined as a pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, perpetrated by a partner to gain and maintain power and control over another. Statistics reveal that at least one in three high school and college-age young people experience violence in an intimate or dating relationship.

Domestic violence is the number one cause of injury to women between the ages of 15–44. Most people stay in their violent relationships—in part because victims usually blame themselves for causing the violence.

The purpose of ACT is: (1) to allow high school girls to be involved in and advocate for issues affecting women/girls in the community; (2) to reduce the violence in our communities; (3) to encourage youth to have healthy relationships that build a sense of well-being, (4) to increase awareness of the health issues stemming from dating violence; (5) to raise community awareness of available resources; and (6) to create systemic change in San Leandro and Oakland that will benefit present and future generations.

The ACT program consists of groups in San Leandro and Oakland. Participants are first educated about how to be advocates and they learn about teen dating violence and healthy relationships. ACT creates system change by recommending policy, based on our own research analysis, which is then presented to policymakers such as the San Leandro City Council and school administrators. Every month, ACT participants are required to educate at least four peers to enlighten them about the problems of teen dating violence and the benefits of having healthy relationships. In addition, ACT does advocacy, runs workshops, conducts research, and outreaches through social media to local high schools to educate and prevent teen dating violence in the community. Topics addressed include violence, misconceptions of rape, the cycle of abuse, power, and control, being an ally, setting boundaries, and many others.

Recently ACT participants used mannequins as a canvas to illustrate the effects of healthy and unhealthy relationships on our emotional, physical, and sexual health.  A division on the body of the mannequin indicates the contrasting effects of violent and nonviolent relationships on the body. Half of each mannequin shows the positive benefits of a nonviolent and respectful relationship characterized by equality; there are images of hearts and happiness, along with words of endearment on this part of the collage. The unhealthy sides of the mannequins have extensive imagery of cuts, wounds, and bruises, in addition to multiple insults and offensive words. One mannequin has a fencing—like the fencing that surrounds many homes—on the side of healthy imagery of a relationship—to convey the message that everything may seem all peachy and lovey-dovey on the outside, but behind closed doors, that is where the violence occurs.

All of these mannequins illustrate that teen dating violence is not only physical and sexual, but also emotional and mental, and likely to have lasting effects on the victims’ lives.  For example, dating violence can foster low self-esteem, and make its victims accustomed to violent partners and to being treated as unequal and unworthy.

My experience in ACT has been life changing. ACT has helped me grow as a person.  I’ve learned how to network. I have become more confident and less shy. And I have improved my public speaking skills. Overall, I’m becoming smart, strong, and bold! Also, being a part of ACT has changed my perspective on how I look at my community. Because of ACT, I am more aware of what goes on in my community. Before, I never would’ve thought that I could actually make a difference in helping my community. But now, thanks to ACT, I am very determined and passionate about doing whatever I can to make positive changes for my community.

My hope for ACT is that the program will continue as long as possible because it sends such a powerful and positive message to young people that we can advocate for change by working together. I would also like to see ACT become more involved in the community, which has started happening. ACT girls have been attending community meetings to learn more about violence prevention and ways to improve public education on this topic.  I hope this trend will continue and we will get even more involved in the community. One day, I hope the community will know the value of what we do. I hope the community already knows ACT is working to make improvements and that we care!

You can learn more about ACT’s move against teen dating violence by following ACT on Girls, GirlsIncACT on Twitter, and by liking Advocating Change Together Girls Inc. of Alameda County on Facebook.

For more information on healthy dating relationships, see the Teen Voices article in the 2012 Teen Focus section of the online Boston Parents Paper, pages 6-8 at:

There are other organziations that can help too:

Love is Respect

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Circle of Six

We happen to know of two Jewish organizations that offer fantastic teen dating violence prevention programs and curriculum,  Shalom Bayit in Oakland, California has Love Shouldn’t Hurt  and Jewish Women International has a prevention program for girls called Strong Girls and one for boys called Good Guys.

Transitions and Dreams

By Jillian Martin, Editorial Intern

As summer approaches and the school year comes to an end, many of us hug our friends goodbye and we see them back at school in three months. However, for some, such as those with a graduation or a big move looming over their heads, these goodbye hugs may be permanent.

Whether you’re heading off to college in the fall, starting work at a new job, or moving to a new home, or simply hanging out for the summer, early June is a time of transition.  School ends, the weather changes, and you probably can’t help but feel a little bit scared as well as excited about the changes. Here at Teen Voices HQ, we like to use these times of transition and those feelings of anticipation to set goals. It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey through life, whether it is graduation time or right in the middle of your middle school years, hopes, dreams, and goals are important to articulate and achieve.

No dream is too big. Check out our article on Kathleen Hassan; the body prayer for dreaming and achieving that she shared at the Girl Up event at Mother Caroline Academy is really helpful. Simply close your eyes and think of your dream. Once you have that clear, you already have a big goal set. Now that you have your goal, write it down and post it up somewhere that you’ll see it every day. This visual aid will give you a daily reminder of something you’re working toward.

You can also take part in The Legacy Project’s “Share the Dream” video, which was inspired by a Texas school district. Students, teachers, and administrators all read from Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom and Wishes; now it’s your turn. Get a group together and read Dream. At the end, share your own dreams on camera and upload the video onto YouTube. Now the whole world can be inspired by your dream!  And now you’ll feel compelled to work toward it!

Having the dream is the easy part; the hard part is getting there. Break down the big picture: what are the baby steps you need to take to achieve your goal? Why are they important? How will they help you do what you want to do? Make a calendar and set dates for each of your mini goals. When you reach them, celebrate! You deserve it.

But when the going is slow or rough, you may need some inspiration. Here are some creative tips for setting goals and staying on track:

  1. Make a collage or “dream chest.” If your goal is to get into your top college choice, print out photos of the campus or put items into a chest that inspire you. If your goal is to become an actress, print out photos of your favorite stars as a reminder of the success you want to achieve.
  2. Make a “to-do” list. By making lists of tiny goals to achieve each day, you’ll learn to be super focused and it feels oh-so-good when you get to check them off! This process also instills the good habit of writing down everything you need to accomplish.
  3. Find a buddy. One of your friends is sure to have a dream of her/his own; maybe she/he shares your dream! Work together to encourage and inspire each other.

There are plenty of other ways to share your dreams, as well. Read our blog on Frank Warren and the PostSecret project.  And don’t forget to head on over to the Artist of the Month Contest page. This month’s theme is “Dreams”—so get out your pencils and paper, brush and canvas, or camera and tripod, and show us your interpretation of what it means to dream. You could win some great prizes, and I’ll be that’s on your dream list!

The Deal with the Steal: The Politics of Plagiarism

By Liz Peters, Editorial Assistant
Art by Gracie Gralike, 19, Missouri

Children rarely like being labeled copy cats, and rightfully so.  From a young age, we are all taught that being yourself is worlds better than acting like somebody else. And if we are unique, what comes from us, even our school work, should be just as unique.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, plagiarism is taking the work someone else has done, and passing it off as your own. This process occurs most often  through a ‘copy and paste method’—from website to Microsoft Word in one quick motion. But even though what you might consider to be borrowing, common knowledge, or simply not a big deal, when you take someone’s ideas you’re messing with their intellectual property, which is protected by law.

There are several reasons  a girl might neglect her sense of fairness and/or get lazy and opt out of opportunities for originality in academia: reliance on the internet for analyses; hope of getting a better grade, a time crunch, feeling inferior to the subject, and/or compensating by using others’ knowledge as one’s own.

Avoid the Steal!  Building on the work of (I’ve gotta be sure I cite my sources correctly, after all!), here are some tips to keep you legit:

1)      Site your sources….correctly!

2)      Give credit and use quotation marks where appropriate

3)      Manage your time well so that you will not feel rushed in completing an assignment, and thus less tempted to take the ‘easy way out’ and use someone else’s work

4)      Explore whether your school has anti-plagiarism software you can use to help prove to your teachers that your work is original and that other students have not stolen your work.  An increasing number of colleges and universities endorse the use of software that can detect plagiarism—either between students, as papers are archived, or from the internet—through program databases that compare with billions of websites! Turnitin and WriteCheck, which allows you to check your work for plagiarism and originality before handing it in, are examples. If you don’t have current experience with these yet, you may come across them in your future.

For more information on plagiarism, see:

For more information on intellectual property, see:

Note:  Fact checking and citing sources correctly is something that we at Teen Voices take very seriously.  In fact, it’s a major portion of how our college-aged editorial interns spend their time here! They make sure that the feature articles produced by the teens in our program give proper credit for ideas and information.

A big ‘thank you!’ to for aiding in the (original!) production of this piece!

Meet our Summer Interns

This year, recognized Teen Voices as one of the top ten internship programs in the nation in both the categories of Creative/Liberal Arts and Non-Profit. Each year, we work with more than 100 interns and volunteers and we are honored to receive this recognition. Teen Voices couldn’t survive without the dedication and support of our interns! It’s time to put some faces to all those amazing interns mentioned!

Without further ado, we’d like you to meet our summer interns!

Editorial interns Anya and Carolyn busy scanning submissions.

Our editorial interns process all the submissions we receive from teen girls all around the world!

Meghan McPhilemy, Emmanuel College, 2011

Major: English, Communications, and Cultural Studies and Minor in Psychology (Health and Counseling)

What are your future plans and dreams? I would love to keep working with young girls and the media. It’s important that our voices are heard!

Rebecca Klein, Brandeis University, 2012

Major: Politics/American Studies and Minor in Journalism

What do you hope to learn at Teen Voices? I hope to learn more about the skills needed to put out a professional publication!

Anya Krenicki, Boston University, 2013

Major: English/Journalism

What do you hope to learn at Teen Voices? Besides learning the ‘inside scoop’ of the editing world and practical work experience, I hope to come away from Teen Voices with knowledge in how to create social change through positive media for young girls.

Carolyn Schweitzer, Brandeis University, 2012

Major: Psychology, Women’s and Gender Studies, and English Literature

Why did you want to intern at Teen Voices? I wanted to combine my interests in women’s issues with my exploration of a possible career in publishing.  I believe that the written word can be a powerful tool for young women to both express themselves and to reach out to others.

Our development interns are hard at work organizing and creating a new filing system for our foundations and donors.

Development intern Mary working hard to organize files.

Mary Gilcoine, Emmanuel College, 2014

Major: English Literature and Writing

What do you hope to learn at Teen Voices? I hope to learn more about how a magazine works and the issues that this particular magazine addresses.

Olivia James, Elon University, 2014

Major: English and Communications

Why did you want to intern at Teen Voices? I was interested in learning more about development. As an alumna of an all-girls’ school, the message of empowering girls stood out to me.

 Elyse Lebel, Connecticut College, 2012

Major: Psychology and Sociology

Why did you want to intern at Teen Voices? I enjoyed the message promoted by Teen Voices—empowering young girls and encouraging social change through the media. With such a powerful message, Teen Voices was the perfect place for me to intern!

Valencia Patilla, Emmanuel College, 2010

Major: Communications, Media and Cultural Studies

After her time at Teen Voices, Valencia is excited about what the future holds. She hopes to attend graduate school with a focus in Global Marketing and Advertising.

Program interns Jean and Sara take a break to smile for the camera

We would be absolutely lost without our program interns, who work to create materials and organize workshops for our teen editors. May we introduce Jean and Sara.

Jean Lee, Wellesley College, 2013

Major: Sociology

What do you hope to learn at Teen Voices? I hope to learn how to connect with other girls in the Boston community. I want to relate to others so that I can support them in any way they need.

Sara Davey, Boston College, 2014

Major: Communications

Why did you want to intern at Teen Voices? I believe that this organization does great things for teen girls and, this summer, I want the opportunity to take part in it! I also want to gain experience in journalism and writing.

Last, but certainly not least, we’d like to give a special shout out to our Marketing Intern, Ann. We’re so excited to have you back at Teen Voices!

Ann Situ, Bentley University, 2014

Major: Marketing

Why did you want to intern at Teen Voices? I wanted to give back to Teen Voices. I was involved in Teen Voices’ SHOUT program over a year ago. It was a life-changing experience and I wanted to help continue this program for teens in the future.

San Francisco Museum Highlights Women as Agents of Change

photo by Ariko Inaoka now on display at the IMOW

by editorial intern Kimya Kavehkar

It’s important to recognize women who are doing admirable things in the world – especially when they’re taking action that isn’t highly publicized. San Francisco’s International Museum of Women is doing just that with Picturing Power and Potential, a new exhibit showcasing women from around the world who are effecting change. Featuring work from 50 different artists, the large-scale photographs spotlight women who participate in their local economy – in both ordinary and extraordinary ways.

Photographer Anne Hamersky shows us a group of American women called Cultivating Change, who grow plants, fruit, and herbs to make fresh and healthy food available to their families and neighbors. One member of this group is a teenage girl who plants a crop of tomatoes to sell at a nearby farmers’ market.

Another incredible story comes from Gujarat, India. Photographer Ariko Inaoka shows a young girl dressed in the colorful and ornate clothing typical of her lower caste. The beautiful detailing of her outfit juxtaposes the often brutal working life of women in her caste. According to the IMOW website, “More than ninety percent are self-employed, with few labor laws to protect them from exploitation. However, since the early 1970s, the state of Gujarat has set up the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) to protect women from usurious lenders, corrupt police, and an indifferent justice system.”

With 48 more inspirational stories left to read and more stirring photographs to view, it is definitely worth the trip to the museum to check out this free exhibit. And luckily for those of us not in the San Francisco area, the photographs and stories can be seen on the museum’s website.

Indie Girl Shows You How to Kick Off Your Creative Project

By Teen Voices editorial intern Michelle Golden

Ever wanted to start your own band? Create an art exhibit? Form a dance troupe? Or maybe you’ve dreamed about starting your own fashion company. All you need is motivation, creativity, and inspiration – plus possibly a few words of advice from Arne Johnson and Karen Macklin co-authors of the book Indie Girl – and you’ll be well on your way to launching the project of your dreams.

In each chapter of Indie Girl, Johnson and Macklin take girls through what it takes to kick off a creative project. Want to start a band? Well, you’ll need some instruments (unless you’ll be going a capella, of course!), rehearsal space, a microphone, a computer, and performance space (for all those sold-out concerts you’ll be rocking out at). So then you’ll need to learn a few of your favorite songs (over time, you’ll be writing your own), find someone who can create a beat or two on the drums, and you’re already halfway there. So take out those earphones, make your own music, and bump Avril off the Top 40 charts with your new hit single!

Perhaps starting a band and writing your own music isn’t on your to-do list, but you’ve always loved writing song lyrics or poetry. Why not hold a poetry slam, like we do here at Teen Voices? This way, you can empower yourself and others simply and beautifully with the written word. Poetry is a great form of self-expression, and a poetry slam enables teen girls who have been writing poems to read them out loud to an audience. In the chapter “Hold a Poetry Slam,” Indie Girl encourages teen girls to “share a vision, thought, emotion or political idea in verse.” First things first, you’ll need to find a location for your event, recruit a few poets, and create a board of members to help out organizing, producing, judging etc. Since a poetry slam is a competition, judges and scorekeepers are necessary. But don’t let that discourage you. Don’t let the fear of not winning keep you silent! Want to read more on poetry slams? Check out our article “Speaking Up Is Slammin’” by teen editors Tekeisha Meade and Mirna Ortiz.

Indie Girl is a tool for launching your dream into reality. The book is just a little (really great) guide to help you along your journey. Just don’t substitute it for the really important tool: you!

Indie Girl: From Starting a Band to Launching a Fashion Company, Nine Ways to Turn Your Creative Talent into Reality

Two Truths and a Lie


The girls got a laugh out of Kassandra's truths and lie.


Pondering over their votes... which story was a lie?


Judelle: "For the first time in six months I’m not partying this weekend. I don’t like kool-aid. I haven’t done my hair in a month."