Woodlands students inspired to help girls globally
Woodlands Academy seniors (from left) Sherry Xu, Caitlin McCarthy, Mercedes Jasso and Bianca Wagner collaborated with others to bring the film "Girl Rising" to Lincolnshire. | Ryan Pagelo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 28, 2013 2:16PM
LAKE FOREST — Students at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart think big.
What started last fall as an internal, school-wide effort to learn more about girls denied the right to learn in other countries has turned into a community-wide project that extends far beyond their campus.
Several student-leaders have organized efforts to bring “Girl Rising” — a movie that tells the stories of nine girls in nine countries who overcome harsh obstacles on their path to education — to a local theater. The documentary directed by Richard Robbins features narration from stars like Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and Selma Hayek.
“Girl Rising” will be shown at 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 11, at the Lincolnshire 21 & Imax, 300 Parkway Drive. Tickets can only be purchased on line at www.girlrising.com and must be purchased by Monday, March 4. They are $10 each. Enter ZIP code 60045.
The Woodlands girls, whose education focuses on social awareness and advocacy, can’t wait to see the movie they’ve worked so hard to bring to the area.
“Every time I watch the (movie) trailer, I cry,” said Bianca Wagner, 17, a senior at Woodlands.
The project, part of a Lenten tradition, has its roots in the school’s first campus ministry efforts last fall that involved broadening awareness of Azadi Pads. The pads are a feminine hygiene product that enables girls in India to continue their education during their menstrual cycle.
“Girls in India are out of school a week of every month, which really puts them behind,” said Caitlin McCarthy, 17, a senior. “I think that started the push. We’re really big on women helping women.”
In October, the Woodlands students were further motivated after the Taliban shot 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan for promoting girls education.
“We started researching the subject and following Malala and her case,” said Wagner, president of the student body.
Student-leaders organized a petition-signing campaign and spread the word campus-wide.
Earlier this month, the students kicked off the “Girl Rising” campaign during an all-school Ash Wednesday chapel service. During the start of Lent service, senior Sherry Xu, 18, of China shared her story about the educational obstacles her mother overcame and how girls still struggle there today.
“My purpose was to try and connect the very far away theme of ‘Girl Rising’ to ourselves,” Xu said. Through showing the movie, “we can really change their lives,” Xu said.
A portion of the movie ticket sales goes to help fund girls’ programs globally.
Taught from freshman year to value their education, the movement to help girls denied an education has taken a foothold at the 150-year-old all-girls college preparatory school.
“When we see other girls being denied an education, it’s so infuriating,” McCarthy said.
Through prayer, reflection, education and action, the girls have already sold more than double the required 100 tickets to secure one showing of the film, but are hoping to sell even more.
Senior Mercedes Jasso, 17, worked on prayer cards for students to remember those throughout the world who are denied an education.
“It shows that education for women can give them power, can give them hope, can give them a voice and bring them out of this despair that they are in,” she said.