by Jessica Ross, Externship Coordinator
This year Metzli Reyes, one of our Girls Inc. of Orange County participants from Anaheim High School, was selected by Girls Inc. National as 1 of 10 girls to join the Girls Action Network (GAN). There were over 50 applicants from affiliates all over the United States, so we were thrilled to have Metzli be selected as the representative of Orange County.
Metzli has been involved with Girls Inc. of Orange County since 8th grade and participated in the Externship program, Belle of the Ball, and the Fortune 500 event.
The purpose of the GAN is to learn from girls about the barriers they face and what policy solutions they think would address these problems. Girls Inc., in turn, aims to prepare the GAN for advocacy with practical resources, training, and hands-on experience so that its members are ready to enact change in their local communities. The Public Policy Office organizes a trip to Washington D.C . in July for the GAN to meet with legislators/legislative staff to discuss top issues affecting girls and apply the skills they have learned over the course of the year. An annual stipend of $300 is provided to each accepted participant, and any travel costs related to the work are paid for by Girls Inc. Metzli and her cohorts participated in monthly check-in calls and worked to enact change locally and nationally.
Some topics that Metzli focused on during her local advocacy efforts over the past year included: Immigration, Sexual harassment, the Dream Act, the Juvenile Justice System, and Mental Health. Before going on her trip to DC, she said, “My favorite project from GAN so far would be the letters we made to either a survivor of sexual harassment or a perpetrator. I was able to share my ideas and hear the different experiences and ideas the other girls in the program have experienced and I really enjoyed that because it showed that we really are united and fighting for the same cause.”
Metzli’s interview with Sonja Breda on Mental Health is highlighted on the Girls Inc. national blog. You can read the interview here.
Metzli went to DC at the beginning of July and shared the following with me about her trip.
“During my trip to Washington D.C., I was able to participate in various activities such as tours of important facilities in D.C. I was given the opportunity to meet various senators that had similar beliefs as me and gave me the inspiration to continue fighting for a better earth. Most of my memorable experiences were when we were given a tour of the White House and the Capitol. This was similar to a case of being star struck by famous buildings, especially since I see myself working there in the future. I was introduced to this program through Girls Inc. of Orange County, and I was more than thrilled when I received the email that congratulated me on entering the program. I would like to thank Girls Inc. and all the wonderful donors that allowed this trip to be possible. You have helped ten girls represent the voices of millions, allowed us to feel powerful and served as a reminder to never feel less than anyone else.”