Bracelets That Link Us

several colorful bracelets displayed on table

Last month, Futures Without Violence put out a call for people to make bracelets in celebration of the International Day of the Girl (Oct. 11), to be sent to our office in Washington, DC as a way to connect the local to the global, create a space where groups of young people would speak about the obstacles and challenges girls face daily, and to nurture civic engagement.

The goal was to share these bracelets with members of Congress and their staff at a Capitol Hill briefing on Oct. 9, co-hosted by FUTURES, ChildFund International, Save the Children, and World Vision. We were pleased to receive over 100 bracelets with compelling and powerful messages and requests for Congress. The bracelets came from YWCAs, YMCAs, the Old Colony Y Girls Secure Detention Unit, the Soroptimist International in Massachusetts, soccer teams, Baha’i youth groups, Sunday school classes in Virginia, the Pace Center for Girls in Florida, and youth groups in Missouri.

collage of bracelets and messages on table, man looking at bracelets on table

We did not anticipate the impact the bracelets and messages would have on us as staff. As the event drew near, each day we would open another packet filled with messages of love and support, and bracelets that demonstrated the sender’s symbolic solidarity and expressions of our common humanity. Looking at the innovative creations made of bottle caps, aluminum can tabs, paperclips, strings, and plastic beads, we read messages of hope, resilience, strength, and palpable cries for justice, equality, and equity. It brought tears to our eyes and filled our hearts with both joy and hope.  These gestures of civic engagement and heartfelt accompaniment gave so much more meaning to our work.

While the purpose of this call for the bracelets and messages was designed to serve as a reminder to members of Congress and their staff to fight for the needs of girls worldwide, the packages and their contents ultimately served to replenish the advocates’ energies and reminded us of the importance of our work on behalf of those who may not have access to those in position to make a lasting difference. Among the many messages, one which stood out to us was a collective message from the Old Colony Y Girls Secure Detention Unit:

Today, our voices are lifted around the globe to say that girls are not dispensable. That violence against girls is unacceptable. That girls’ education is crucial. That safety and empowerment for all young people need to be rights, not privileges. We can only move forward from a crisis when we are whole, with no one—no one at all—left behind.

On behalf of FUTURES, I want to thank all those who took the time to share these gifts with us. You have re-energized us and increased our resolve to speak truth to power and raise the banner of justice for all. Thank you!