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Park Slope Students Raising Money to Educate Girls Half a World Away

By Leslie Albrecht | November 12, 2014 2:48pm
 Inspired by Malala Yousafzai, Park Slope girls are raising money to support girls education worldwide.
'Girls Read for Girls' Raises Money for Girls' Education Worldwide
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PARK SLOPE — They go to some of the best schools in New York City, but they know that in some parts of the world, education is a privilege that girls fight for with their lives.

That's why a group of Park Slope sixth-graders is raising money for the Malala Fund, a nonprofit co-founded by Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot and nearly killed by the Taliban in 2012 after she spoke out in support of educating women. She won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year.

Yousafzai's story so moved a group of P.S. 107 girls that they decided to take action, and for the past two years they've hosted a read-a-thon and donated the proceeds to girls' education efforts worldwide.

"The fact that they can read what they want, study want they want — they feel like it should be like that for girls everywhere and they're realizing in very hard and compelling ways that it’s not,” said mom Meg Barnette, parent of Rosa Lander, of one of girls involved in the read-a-thon.

The girls who launched the fundraiser have since left P.S. 107 for middle school, but they've continued the read-a-thon, called Girls Read for Girls, and the event is getting bigger. Roughly 100 girls — and some boys — are expected to participate in this year's reading fest at Brooklyn Public Library's Central Branch on Nov. 16.

Last year's effort, at the smaller Park Slope public library, raised about $5,000, but this year organizers say they'll collect much more, thanks in part to a $5,000 donation from a "generous dad of two daughters" who didn't want to be named, Barnette said.

This year's event will also feature new co-sponsors from groups dedicated to empowering girls, such as the Anne Frank Center USA, the Arab American Association of New York, the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, and the Center for Anti-Violence Education.

There will also be a performance by Girl Be Heard, which uses theater to "empower young women to be brave," according to the group's website.

The day will focus on raising money, but also spreading awareness about the realities of girls' lives across the globe.

"We've got a whole set of really privileged Park Slope girls in the room — we want them to think critically about these issues," Barnette said.

"When the violence against Malala happened, it was this incredible experience of realizing that girls in the rest of the world just didn’t have the same privilege that they had,” added Barnette, whose husband is City Councilman Brad Lander.

She continued, “Since being involved, the girls that organized this, they don’t take going to school for granted in the same way.”

To register for the Girls Read for Girls read-a-thon, visit the event's website.