What goes down when 65 girls Girl Up

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PHILADELPHIA- On November 4th, 2017, in Philadelphia, the Girl Up Pennsylvania Coalition hosted its first regional summit. Connecting social activists from across the state, the summit aimed to empower, educate, and engage members of different Girl Up clubs. Pennsylvania Coalition founders Annie Glieberman, of the Grier School in Tyrone, and Palak Shah, a senior of North Penn High School, were incredibly thankful for this event. To them, Girl Up is a beacon of inspiration, and they are happy to share their passion for it.

Girl Up, an organization of the United Nations, is a large organization that intends to provide girls in developing nations with access to education, healthcare, and resources to become leaders in their societies. Through each chapter of Girl Up all over the world, this mission is accomplished as girls work to fundraise, advocate, and spread awareness. Palak Shah founded North Penn’s Girl Up chapter in 2015 as a sophomore at North Penn.

“As a sophomore, when I was organizing events, I was worried people would think it was stupid, or they wouldn’t like the idea of Girl Up. But Girl Up has taught me how to advance my causes without embarrassment,” said Shah.

During the past three years as president, Shah has grown into a strong leader.

It really comes down to learning that a true leader is someone who knows when to lead and also when to step back”

— Palak Shah

“Leading Girl Up for the past 3 years, I have really grown as a person. It really comes down to learning that a true leader is someone who knows when to lead and also when to step back. One of the best ways to learn is to be in a community and an environment where everyone is able to feed off of each other. Girl Up has taught me that if you are willing to put passion into something, other people will naturally care about it,” Shah reflected.

In June, Palak cofounded the Girl Up Pennsylvania Coalition, which consists of Girl Up clubs from all over the state. The Coalition hosted the regional summit, which will hopefully become an annual event. The summit lasted from 9am to 4pm, and all 65 girls attending were eager to learn and lead all day. With 12 speakers, the girls were able to learn about issues and achievements from many aspects of the world.

Some of the speakers included political representatives Madeline Dean and Leanne, Nikki Johnson-Huston from Philly Tax Diva, and Allana Harkin from Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. All of the speakers focused on empowering girls and overcoming challenges to get them where they are today. Nikki Johnson-Hutson specifically stressed that “it is not where you begin, but how you end.”

The goal of the Girl Up Regional Summit was to create a network of support and to encourage communication and collaboration. Summit attendees, ranging from ages 11 to 19, were given opportunities to ask questions, share experiences, and gain new insights.

“The girls learned from each other and inspired each other,” said Shah.

Girl Up members left that day prepared to find a way to change not just their communities, but their world.

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