Girls Inc. She Votes!, an annual nonpartisan initiative conducted by Girls Inc. affiliates nationwide, focuses on involving girls in the political process and encouraging girls to see themselves as leaders.
“Engaging the girls in the elections is important so they will see themselves as future voters and office holders,” said Kristina Webster, director of Girls Inc. Goleta Valley Center. “The excitement in the girls as they cast their ballots and debate the issues is very rewarding. I believe in teaching girls about responsible citizenship, and we encourage our parents to get out and vote and take their children with them to set the example on Nov. 6.”
With Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider as moderator, Girls Inc. recently held debates for girls ages 5 to 13. One of the topics girls debated is whether plastic bags should be banned.
“I commend Girls Inc. for teaching girls the value of their vote,” Schneider said. “I was so impressed by the four debaters who presented their views so eloquently and persuasively. The debate and the She Votes! project are great examples of seeing democracy in action. I’m sure the girls will remember this when they turn 18 and register to vote in local, statewide and national elections.”
Girls Inc. She Votes! launched during the 2004 presidential elections, when more than 2,200 Girls Inc. girls across the United States participated in a mock election and activities that included visits from public officials, volunteering at voter registration drives, viewing and discussing televised debates, get-out-the-vote activities and creating political cartoons.
Girls Inc. serves 1,000 children annually at two Girls Inc. program centers in Santa Barbara and the Goleta Valley, through Girls Inc. Gymnastics, through enriching after-school and summer programs.
— Beth Cleary is a public relations and administrative coordinator for Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara.