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LVA club focuses on feminism, awareness

Since it joined the Las Vegas Academy club scene, the Women’s Youth Club has proved itself an important asset to the community in many ways. From activism to community service, club members have risen above expectations and provided an outlet for young women who seek empowerment.

“I think women’s rights is an important issue, and the club is very active on campus and the community,” Academy junior Kasey Gardner says.

The Women’s Youth Club is in its second year of operation and has quickly earned the title of one of the most popular clubs at the Academy.

“Anyone, even nonfeminists, are free to participate in the club; with that we have ideas from every end of the spectrum,” club President Lissy Richards says.

The club members say their best accomplishments are the thrift store they host semiannually and the toiletry drive they have for the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. The clothes, shoes and accessories are sold for $1, and the leftover items are donated to the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth along with the toiletry items. The thrift store is the largest fundraiser on campus.

The club also has raised more than $1,000 for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, more than $400 for the Safe Nest domestic crisis shelter and more than $400 for the Rape Crisis Center.

Club adviser and Academy history teacher Jessica Kelly developed the idea for the club while in college when she noticed the lack of awareness of women’s issues. Kelly was inspired to start the club at the Acadmey when young girls told her they considered her a role model, as their own home situations were less than perfect.

“My goal is to spread knowledge these young girls can take with them to college and beyond,” Kelly says.

Though it started as a service club, the Women’s Youth Club has expanded into broader issues. The club has gradually entered the realm of political activism, however, Kelly says the club meetings remain a place where women and men can discuss relevant topics.

“The most important aspect of the club is getting the word out,” Richards says. “Just because in the U.S. women can work and vote doesn’t mean it is that way everywhere else in the world. In some places, women are punished for being raped. … What kind of justice is that?”

The Women’s Youth Club recently organized a benefit concert for the Rape Crisis Center at The Box Office, a local venue. It included several local bands and solo artists as well as performances of “The Vagina Monologues” by club members. The club also participated in Relay for Life and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, both cancer awareness events.

The Women’s Youth Club also regularly shows films with feminist themes after school on campus. The most recent showing was “A Bunny’s Tale” about the life of prominent feminist Gloria Steinem, who as a journalist went “undercover” at the Playboy Club in Manhattan.

The Women’s Youth Club ultimately seeks to disprove the misconceptions of feminism and raise awareness of modern women’s issues. As the only feminist club in the Clark County School District, the club’s future goals include expanding to other schools.

“Awareness is key,” Kelly says. “Even if we got one person who thought one way to think another, I would consider that a huge accomplishment.”

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