District to host Girls Fight Back presentation

DSC04401By Katie Ritchie
In June 2001, ’97 Rolling Meadows graduate Shannon McNamara was murdered after an intruder broke into her apartment.  She was living by herself in Charleston, Ill., just blocks from the center of the Eastern Illinois University campus.
According to girlsfightback.org, McNamara fought hard against the intruder, who turned out to be a young man living in the same neighborhood. Because she opted to fight back, police were able to collect important data about her murderer, including DNA from under her fingernails and his credit card she knocked out of his hand.
Upon hearing the tragic news, McNamara’s close friend and Alpha Phi sorority sister, Erin Weed, started the organization Girls Fight Back to educate young women about living safely on college campuses or in urban environments.
Tomorrow evening, Forest View Educational Center is hosting Weed at 7 p.m. to present Girls Fight Back and educate all District 214 senior girls and their mothers.
As both a mother and a counselor, Associate Principal Lee Stanley, who organized the event, encourages all senior girls, especially those on the cusp of leaving home for the first time, to take advantage of the unique learning opportunity.
“Never, never do I want to scare anybody,” Stanley said. “That’s not what it’s about. It’s just about having this knowledge. The more we can be aware of our surroundings, the stronger we are.”
The program also aims to encourage a dialogue between mothers and daughters about potential situations they will face in college. If girls are more comfortable talking about dangers, they might be more confident when facing such challenges.
One aspect of the presentation that Stanley believes will be appealing to all women is the fact that it is taught entirely by  women who have encountered tricky situations in the real world.
“It’s young women talking to young women,” Stanley said. “I think they’ll be honest with you.”

To read more about Shannon McNamara’s life and the Girls Fight Back program, look for an upcoming article in The Prospector.