Girl Up

Haley Groth, left, and Alyssa Bynum are co-founders of the Girl Up club at Palm Harbor University High School.

PALM HARBOR — Being a young girl from India it is hard to receive a good education. Young girls are being thought to cook and clean all day and don’t have time to learn math or science. 

They must take care of their family. They don’t get to read literature or write poetry. They don’t have the privilege to earn an education like young girls in America.

American girls and boys are helping to make sure that other young females across the world receive an education through a program called Girl Up, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation.

Alyssa Bynum and Haley Groth, two juniors, started the Girl Up Club at Palm Harbor University High School in August 2018. 

Groth did a project for one of her classes about women’s empowerment and found the Girl Up website. After seeing the site, Groth talked to Bynum and about starting the club. Groth and Bynum are both the co-presidents of Girl Up. The club can be started at any school.

“(Girl Up) fund raise and advocate for girls who are in poverty countries like Uganda and India. We try to fundraise and advocate for their education and release from violence,” Bynum said.

Bynum’s favorite part about running the club is communicating to other clubs and learning about them. They started a pen pal group with a Girl Up group in Uganda and learned about their experiences.

They learned that the girls don’t go to school every day because they take care of their families and that their school was in a tiny hut.

Groth’s enjoys having discussions with the other girls in the group.

Both Groth and Bynum agree that a difficult part is getting members to join. Although, they do have a steady membership.

At the school the club meetings consist of movie screenings, writing to senators about bills to help with refugee education, watching videos and having discussions about the videos. The meetings are 15-45 minutes long and are held twice a month on Thursdays.

One of the fundraisers that they do is the movie screening, a popular fundraiser. It is $5 to purchase one of the tickets to watch the movie.

The focus countries the club helps is Uganda, India, Ethiopia, Malali, Liberia, Guatemala and other third world countries where girls need help.

Girl Up in Palm Harbor has also helped women in their own community.

“Last year we did a women’s products drive and donated to a women’s shelter,” Groth said.

The United Nations Foundation helps the clubs by having challenges that the clubs can do. One of them was dream big princess where members of the club will post on Instagram with the hashtag then Disney would donate $1 to the campaign.

They provide the club with a lot of resources, such as different activities and movies to watch. Clubs can also talk to other clubs from the community website.

The money that is raised for the organization goes to a program that helps provide bicycles for girls so they can get to school. They have also provided books and educational materials.

The sponsor for Girl Up at Palm Harbor University High School is Raquel Stiehler, a Hope teacher at the school. She started sponsoring them this year after their old sponsor left last year.

Stiehler enjoys being a sponsor for the club because the girls have a great handle on running the club and enjoy learning what the girls teach her. Her duties are being there for the girls and the paperwork.

Groth and Bynum’s duties as the presidents are meeting planning, running the meetings, making the PowerPoints, communicating to Stiehler about the paperwork for the activities and more.

The club has 20-30 members. There are no requirements to join the club, which also has a few male members.

Groth believes what people like about the club is the supported environment.

“I think they like being in a supported environment where they can talk about the things that matter to them. I think it’s a fun environment where people feel like they're making a difference,” Groth said.

Bynum wants people to know that the club is not particularly about girls and you don’t have to be a girl to join.

“It's about equality and helping people who don’t have the same privileges we do,” Bynum said.

Groth wants people to know it’s not about raising girls up. It’s about everyone having the same opportunities. Having an equal and fair chance for both men and women.