Last month, we celebrated Black History Month and shared conversations and actions to fight for equity, as well as honor the major contributions black women and men have had throughout history. In March, we’re focusing on Women’s History Month, recalling women’s suffrage and the continued movement for equity, regardless of gender, race, or identity.
My parents have always taught me I have two things against me—being a woman and being a woman of color. Everything I do, I approach with my attitude first to push past the limits placed on my identity by societal expectations.
I began attending Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa when I was in middle school at McCombs. It took some encouragement from a friend to join Club but from the moment I started, I was welcomed and felt equal.
I continue to attend Boys & Girls Clubs because I believe creating inclusive spaces for women to contribute, feel safe, and heard is an important step toward equity for our gender. I've experienced both sides of this in my life; feeling pushed out and not comfortable with sharing my perspective or ideas but also, elevated, empowered, and encouraged to share my voice.
Through Club activities and involvement, I have harnessed my passion for dance, music, entrepreneurship, computer science, and most importantly, helping others. Club has helped me feel confident and safe to explore what is most important to me and how I can give back to my community. I've learned empathy and leadership and have been given the opportunity to lead and mentor my classmates and fellow Club members.
We've shared experiences on body positivity, health, and lifestyles as women and, generally, have been able to collaborate, build trust and understanding together. These experiences have strengthened me to build my own great future and become a trailblazer for young girls and women who will come after me.
I want to positively shape the future for women. I believe the first step is to create more spaces and opportunities for women to share their experiences and ideas. I am so grateful for the ways I’ve been able to use my voice to empower others and we need to continue this work. If I could speak to younger girls, I would tell them not to give up. Execute your passions and be dedicated. When you need inspiration or hope, look to the women before you who have blazed a trail.
Sierra Pilate is currently a junior at East High School. She attends Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa’s E.T. Meredith Jr. Club. Sierra plans to pursue degrees in music therapy and computer science in college to combine her love for technology and coding with helping others through art.