As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I have a dream.”
My dream is to close the gender gap around the globe. I dream of a world where women have an equal opportunity for education, jobs, health and political positions. I dream of a world where men and women receive equal pay for equal work.
And, just as Dr. King said, “The time has come.”
My name is Lilia Becker. I’m 16 years old and I just completed my sophomore year of high school.
2018 is an important year for women as we speak up and march to occupy equal spaces. Not only do we see more women in leadership roles in industry and politics, but global media has also helped carry our message to take root around the world.
Women are rising; I want to be a part of the change and help empower young girls. No matter our age, we can all make a difference — one small group of girls at a time. Therefore, I decided to volunteer this spring as a junior coach at the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. I couldn’t think of a better organization to help build strength and confidence in young girls than Girls on the Run.
The GOTR girls, workshops and weekly lesson plans exceeded my expectations. Just as our Girls on the Run teams participate in group service projects called Community Impact Projects, I have been doing community service for as long as I can remember. But I never belonged to an organization that prepares their volunteers with as much empowering and insightful teachings as Girls on the Run.
Junior coach training taught me how to empower my teammates and inspired me to reflect on my own vulnerabilities. The Shipley GOTR coaches did an impressive job leading our team and were excellent role models for all of us. I’m confident that each one of our girls feels more empowered having participated in the GOTR program.
As the season went on, I realized that the girls were very excited about having a junior coach participate. They were thrilled that a teenage girl wanted to spend time with them. It was an honor to be someone they looked up to and I felt the significance of leading by example because my actions truly inspired them.
In many ways, I am just like my GOTR girls. They are just getting started on their journey to finding strength and confidence to try new things that might seem impossible — like running a 5K! And I just hit the pavement, not running this time, but going from business to business looking for my first summer job. It is interesting how our experiences may differ but the lessons we take away from them are just the same.
New experiences and putting yourself out there at any age can be scary. I’m hoping to be an even better role model for them next season when I return as a junior coach again. Inspiring them with my own experiences motivates me to do and be my very best.
I’m looking forward to next spring when I can remind them of this one thing: if I can do it, they can too.