Just4Girls Magazine: A Closer Look at Community Engaged Learning

As part of my SASAH Experiential Learning course, I worked with a London-based organization called LIFE*SPIN, which is dedicated to empowering low-income families by running fundraising events, providing financial aid, and educational resources. More particularly, I worked with their Just4Girls group, which is a social group for female-identifying individuals aged 13-18 that meets once a week. The group organizes fun, informational, and empowering meetings for the girls, like volunteering opportunities in the community, trips to Lasertag, musical performances, and guest-led workshops for everything from getting a job to creating healthy relationships.

This project was a challenge for me in many ways—I had never created a magazine or worked with a teen girls group before—and I learned so much more than what one can merely communicate in a brief blogging blurb. Please have a look at the amazing work the girls of J4G have achieved over this past year, and remember to support your local girl gang!

After working with the group in the planning, promotion, and execution stages, I identified a few problems that were holding the group back from reaching its full potential and attracting some much needed grants: the low attendance numbers, the lack of participation, the time slot for the group’s meeting, and a level of discomfort among the girls of different ages and backgrounds. The time slot is something that could not be changed, and the organizers had a lot of obstacles preventing them from reaching out to girls; you can’t just walk up to them on the street, but to get into a school to speak to them involves a lengthy and detailed process that the organizers didn’t have time for.

As my self-designed project, I decided to create a publication for the group—an inclusive, educational, artistic magazine targeted at girls aged 13-18, and largely created by the members attending the Just4Girls meetings. Something by the girls and for the girls. The project was a collective effort that all girls of all backgrounds could participate in—and in any way they felt they could, including articles, poems, photographs, artwork, tutorials, recipes, and more. The magazine gave the group something to work on together, and helped regulate attendance by creating long-term goals for the members. Girls who may not have been able to attend the meeting due to time or transportation issues now have a way to participate by sending their work to the submissions email. The magazine became a tool for girls who didn’t get the chance to participate, and the girls who contributed to the magazine received a final product that they can feel proud of as they hold it in their own two hands and share it with their friends and loved ones. The publication functions as a promotional tool in that way as well, spreading the word about the group to potential members and serving as an example to grant-donors of the amazing work that goes into this nonprofit organization.

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