by Laurie Goodman

Did you know? One in three girls does not feel she has the opportunity for open discussion in her classes. Fifty-five percent believe that they are expected to speak softly and not cause trouble. (According to a national study conducted by Girls Inc., “The Supergirl Dilemma”)

An 11th grade, Girls Inc. member said, “We receive pressure from virtually every source: school, family, friends. We’re expected to be able to hold it all together with a perfect smile on our face, yet we rarely receive the recognition and praise for all we do. We have to fight through a world that expects us to be traditional girls, yet at the same time is telling us that we’re the next generation and we must do everything as well as boys. We are expected to do it all, but most don’t believe we can. It’s a tough world, and we got it roughest of all.”

Clearly, girls are not getting the message that their opinions or their contributions matter. It is no surprise that they are experiencing more stress, more depression, and more hopelessness than ever before.

The BLITS Foundation and Girls Inc. have found a way to empower girls to use their voices. Girls learn to make documentary films about the issues that concern them. Doc Squad is a two-week filmmaking camp designed to inspire the next generation of change makers, to help them develop their leadership skills, and to find their story-telling voice. The camp gives girls the skills to write, edit, direct, and produce their own films. The program is funded by the BLITS Foundation and taught by a teacher from the Orange County School of the Arts and OCSA students who have demonstrated exceptional talent.

The three groups of filmmakers tackled such weighty topics as substance abuse and the use of music for healing, religious tolerance and interfaith work, and the lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. Non-profits that were interviewed included: Rock to Recovery at Northbound, Hands Together, Orange County Interfaith Network (OCIN) and Interfaith Youth Council, and Girls Inc.

Participants said,

“Being a part of Doc Squad was phenomenal! Not only did I make new friends and have a great summer, but I also explored a new field that I had never previously considered. Doc Squad opened my eyes both to different nonprofits in the area, but also to the world of film.”

–Marilyn, 12th grader

“I can honestly say that I love Doc Squad. Going in, I was excited to get behind the camera and learn about the various roles in film. However, I didn’t think I would end up being the one in front of the camera. I’m shocked that I was able to do that and thankful for the blessed opportunity. Doc Squad has definitely expanded my interest in film and I hope to use the knowledge I gained for my future.”

-Desiree, 12th grader

“Doc Squad allowed me to grow as a person by meeting new people and taking on much more responsibility than what I am used to. The unique aspect of my experience was that I got to work with people my own age. My creativity expanded and I definitely recommend it to anyone who desires that sense of feeling like a new person.”

-Nathalie, 12th grader

To view the student films: