Talley Dunn Gallery was the perfect setting to showcase some of the student artwork from Young Women’s Preparatory Network’s (YWPN) Respect Starts Here—Listen, Learn and Act (RSH) program on May 4.
The two art exhibitions at the gallery coincidentally featured female artists: Natasha Bowdoin’s “Spelboken” and Linda Ridgway’s “With or Without.” Donors, supporters and students attended while enjoying light bites and beverages. Some of those in attendance included Sally Posey (she and her husband Lee Posey founded YWPN), Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Joyce and Larry Lacerte, Laura Estrada, Trustee Bernadette Nutall, Margaret Keliher, Beth Thoele, Emy Lou Baldridge, Tierney Kaufman Hutchins and Talley Dunn (host).
Respect Starts Here, an anti-bias program pursuing empathy and equity through education, launched at YWPN’s first network and all-girls school in Texas, Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, in the fall 2015. RSH helps students and teachers learn to have meaningful conversations to discuss issues of social justice and bias in society with a focus on race, class and gender.
A school-wide conference kicked off RSH that blended listening, learning, speaking, writing and creating. Throughout the year, the students have read books, have had discussion on tough issues, participated at assemblies, and created art projects—all focused on the importance of developing and sharing one’s story to understand and generate empathy.
According to Patty Leyendecker, YWPN Chief Development Officer, “YWPN hired social justice organizations such as Journeyman Ink, Border Crossers and 29 Pieces to develop our program with best practices and to ensure our programming is intentional and effective in this goal. We also hired Diana O’Connor, who is passionate about this issue and whose day job is the Irma Rangel librarian, to develop and implement our curriculum. The artwork you see tonight is part of a collaboration with 29 Pieces.”
The various art projects focused on respect, love, heroes and great peacemakers. Attendees were invited to view the artwork, take any pieces that spoke to them and consider making a donation to the program as YWPN rolls it out to two more network schools.
According to YWPN CEO Lynn McBee, “Respect Starts Here is important because developing leadership skills in economically-disadvantaged students who are starting off against the odds can help them to become proactive in dealing with issues that might derail their education. This program also embodies our three pillars of leadership, college readiness and health/wellness. We can’t wait to have our student leaders and faculty train our other network schools!”