News: Marines, sailors work together to fight stereotypes
Story by Lance Cpl. Kenneth Trotter
IWAKUNI, Japan - Marines and sailors from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 and Strike Fighter Squadron 94 spent the day at the Island Girl Power headquarters in the village of Dededo here Oct. 29.
The purpose of the visit was to clean up the area around the clubhouse, give local girls an opportunity to observe how female
service members contribute to the local community and also promote awareness for issues facing young girls on the island.
“We aim to decrease teen pregnancies, suicides, substance abuse and sexual assaults,” said Juanita C.V. Blaz, Island Girl Power program director. “We do that by offering positive alternatives. We’re about positive role models, bringing people to them who are goal-oriented and positive contributors to the community.”
The club is geared toward girls ages 7-14.
When they turn 15 years old, the girls then may become volunteers, continuing to provide guidance to other members.
Volunteers also help by coordinating classes, prevention activities and workshops. The majority of the day was spent clearing away debris, cleaning and organizing the club’s recreational room and interacting with club members.
Island Girl Power members are also set to begin a community revitalization project, which is slated to begin within a year’s time.
This is slated to work in conjunction with Guam’s lieutenant governor’s rebeautification project.
“We want to fall in line with the objective of having more facilities available for the community that encourage physical fitness and community gardening,” said Blaz.
Island Girl Power is, at its root, about reinforcing positive role models for its members, whether those role models are male or female, as evident by the diversity of service members who showed up.
“It’s all about the positive role models, male or female, people who are living positive, drug-free lives,” said Blaz. “Guam is not just the bars and clubs. Guam is the families and youth. People need to see
more of that side of the island.”
Some club members were not concerned with whether the service members were female or male but the positive influence they have on the club and the community as a whole.
“It’s inspiring,” said Kirsten L. Chien, a Island Girl Power volunteer. “They’re willing to do things to help the community, and I want to be able to do that.”
Chien also said the time the service members spent helping the club has inspired her by showing that even when some try to convince young girls to not follow their dreams, there are those who have followed their dreams to take a more active role by taking time to engage in the community.
“It shows girls what they can aspire to be, and they can be strong,” said Chien.
The pride in knowing they have inspired someone else to pursue their dreams and goals was a unique and pleasing opportunity for some service members.
“It feels good to help them,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica D. McClain, a VFA -94 aviation structural mechanic safety equipment technician. “It shows there are other options besides what they have.”
The service members’ presence at the club could also affect those who are not even members of the club said McClain.
“When they see us doing [things such as his], they can learn from this and decide hey might want to volunteer and help someone else,” said McClain. “It’s exactly why it’s important for them, because they’re very impressionable at this age.”
Service members’ responsibilities not only lie in answering the nation’s call in times of war, but also in peace by providing an example for others to emulate, not just within their ranks, but in the communities where they live. One of the many ways they do this is by taking time to interact with local youth and clear away misconceptions of the military as a whole. The perception the youth have of military personnel could one day influence them to serve.