In just 5 years, SPARK Movement welcomed and trained over 60 girls as part of the SPARKteam of girl activists. SPARKteam activists brought their passion, their expertise, their energy, their fear, their vulnerability, and their incredible power to every single thing SPARK has done. SPARK was, at its heart, their organization, driven by their needs and desires, and we want to honor and thank them for their achievements.
This year, we produced, “This Is Not A Safe Space,” a site-specific theater production addressing rape culture that wove throughout a neighborhood in Brooklyn. Later in the year, we chose to shift from training one team of girls from around the world to supporting a core group of girls to organize locally in their home communities. Seven amazing girls came together to develop skills as leaders of SPARK Movement. Each worked to engage girls and organizations in their local communities.
Our biggest and most diverse team yet, 37 girls from 8 countries, met for a 5 day retreat in New Jersey. So many girls applied for the few open SPARKteam spots that we launched the SPARK Action Squad (SAS) to engage global actions and projects. We began the year by publishing a scathing research report tracking the lack of women and people of color represented in the Doodles on Google’s homepage asked Google to diversify their Doodles. Our campaign led to global media attention, a meeting with Google and an exciting partnership with them to create and launch SPARK: Women on the Map, a cellphone app that maps the stories of women from history, using GoogleMaps technology! The adults joined with the girls to write the histories and document achievements of over 100 women around the world. The SPARKteam Players wrote and performed an original production, “UNFINISHED: Girls of Today, Wives of Tomorrow,” for audiences throughout NYC including a special performance for teen boys at the Boys Club of New York . We launched our series Black Women Create to spotlight the work of Black Women in the film and television industries and to give young Black girls inspiration and advice.
This year a larger and more diverse SPARKteam focused on racial justice and intersectional feminism. The team kicked off the year with Capitol Cuties, a satiric Tumblr campaign that exposed Covergirl’s Hunger Games makeup line’s homage to capitalism and colonization. Alice and YingYing followed advice offered by Teen Vogue and Seventeen to hilarious results. We worked with the National Federation of High Schools Association (NFHS) and an alliance of sexual violence prevention organizations to make available free sexual violence prevention resources to more than a million high school coaches and athletics staff all over the country.
A few of us testified at the first ever UN Tribunal on Violence Against Girls. We partnered again with the NYC Mayor’s Office to launch the Girls’ Project to address girls’ self-esteem by posting more than 4,000 posters on public buses and in the subway, and with Brave Girls Alliance to address sexist media on an original, interactive billboard in Times Square. The SPARKteam Players performed BodyVOX to explores the lines between “sexy” and “sexualized” while other team members petitioned H&M to model their plus-size clothing line with plus-size mannequins.
With new members came a new retreat and new actions! We began the year with confronting LEGO about their hypergendered marketing, eventually meeting with LEGO executives in person. A few of us joined Gloria Steinem and Linda Ellerbee on Nick News to talk feminism, activism, and women’s history. Our 85,000 signature petition and protest in front of Seventeen Magazine’s headquarters convinced the editor to publish a body peace treaty and promise to never retouch or photoshop girls’ faces or bodies. Working with SPARK’s adult leadership team, we partnered with lots of national orgs to do big events and campaigns, like Miss Representation’s #Keep It Real and the National Eating Disorders Association’s #Proud2bMe 3-day challenge. We partnered with the NYC Mayor’s office to proclaim New York City’s first annual Day of the Girl.
The very first team in 2011
Meet our very first SPARKteam! Twelve amazing girl activists spanning in age from 13 to 22 from around the United States and Canada. We gathered for a retreat in October 2011, a whirlwind long weekend in NYC filled with trainings, history lessons, and feminist strategizing sessions. Soon after, we began blogging about sexualization in the media and successfully petitioned HalloweenStore.com to stop sales of “Anna Rexia,” a costume that made light of and sexualized a serious eating disorder. we wrote, produced, and performed an original play, “Blurring Boundaries” for hundreds of audience members in NYC.
Names of SPARKteam Girls
Bailey Shoemaker Richards
Luci Navas Sharry