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>  News Releases >   2003 >   January

Forums for Upper Valley middle school boys and girls draw 200 to Hanover

Posted 01/28/03, by James Donnelly

Photos of the first Sister-to-Sister program, March 2002

A total of two hundred Upper Valley middle school boys and girls will come to Dartmouth February 11 and 13 as part of dual programs designed to reach out to adolescents making the transition to adulthood. The programs, dubbed Boys Speak Out and Sister-to-Sister, focus on issues important to adolescents, including school, social challenges, self-esteem, and dealing with peer pressure and the opposite sex.

Sister-to-Sister had its inaugural session at Dartmouth a year ago, in March 2002. Afterwards, Anthony Webb, a Dartmouth senior, approached Sister-to-Sister organizers about developing an additional, boys-only conference with a similar focus.

"I thought Sister-to-Sister was an incredible program that really made a difference in young girls' lives," said Webb. "I brought the idea of starting something for the boys to [fellow Dartmouth students] Lola Adedokun and Claribel Vargas. They were both instrumental in making Sister-to-Sister a reality last year."

As it turned out, Adedokun and Vargas had already talked about initiating a boys' program but needed help getting started. Over the summer the three worked to put together a proposal for the program.

"While Boys Speak Out is an outgrowth of Sister-to-Sister, the three of us had to work hard to get the research and logistics together as young men are very different from young women," said Webb. "These young males are often taught that it's a sign of weakness to show emotion or express feelings, so we've had to think a lot about how to overcome those messages."

Boys Speak Out began with Webb and other organizers visiting area middle schools last fall to talk about the program and engage the interest of prospective attendants. Out of these sessions, 100 volunteers emerged. When they arrive at Dartmouth on February 11 for the day-long conference, the boys will be addressed by Stuart Lord, Dean of Dartmouth's Tucker Foundation. They will then split into discussion groups, talking about issues of violence, peer pressure, drugs and academic skills. The day culminates with the boys and their college mentors developing a specific action plan by which they can affect change in the world around them.

Sister to Sister, to be held February 13, is an outgrowth of the American Association of University Women, with locally organized events being held across the country. The inaugural conference at Dartmouth last year drew 100 middle school girls from the Upper Valley for a day of discussion. This year's event builds on that success. Discussion topics will include building self-confidence and dealing with sexual harassment and assault. A special component of Dartmouth's Sister-to-Sister program is a focus on challenges that girls interested in pursuing careers in math and science face. Opening the session will be Susan Wright, wife of Dartmouth president James Wright.

"The main goal of the program is to empower girls to make a change, encouraging them to pursue their interest specifically in math and science, and to take action within their communities by accessing a supportive network," said Adedokun.

Both events will take place on the Dartmouth campus at the Hopkins Center. Lunch will be provided by Bentley's Restaurant of Woodstock, Vt. The programs are sponsored by The Center for Women and Gender at Dartmouth. Those interested in either Sister-to-Sister or Boys Speak Out should call 646.3456 or email

- James Donnelly

For More Information

Boys Speak Out
Feb. 11, 2003

Feb. 13, 2002

Call 646-3456 or email for more information

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