Teens’ Vital Voices

Many freshmen spend their 1st year at Staples figuring out the school:  what activities to get involved in, which clubs to join, that sort of thing.  Leadership comes later.

Alexis Teixeira is not “many freshmen.”

Just a few months into her high school career, she’s already started a club.  Already, the club has had an impact — locally and internationally.

Alexis Texeira and Rebecca Lolosoli, during the Kenyan's visit to Westport.

The club is Teen Vital Voices.  It’s the 1st high school branch anywhere of Vital Voices Global Partnership — a not-for-profit organization launched in 1999 by Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright to identify, train and empower women leaders around the globe.

A Vital Voices volunteer, Alexis’s mom told stories of her work.  The 9th grader was intrigued by Kakenya Ntaiya, who started a school in Kenya.  When Kakenya came to Westport to talk, Alexis invited several friends.

Kakenya’s vision inspired Alexis to organize a club.  Teen Vital Voices aims to make a difference in Kenyan girls’ lives, through the Kakenya Center for Excellence.  They assist the school financially, while befriending its students through correspondence and other activities.

Teen Vital Voices hopes to inspire similar clubs, in high schools and colleges.

This year, Staples members have heard from a State Department intern from Turkey; a Fairfield University professor from India, and Rebecca Lolosoli, who founded a safe haven village for women in Kenya.

Alexis has learned much about Africa — including the dearth of opportunities for women there.  “They get married at my age,” she says.  “They drop out of school.  There are rapes and pregnancies, and the blame is put on the girls.  They get kicked out of their homes.”

She also learned that — despite all the obstacles, and little material wealth — the girls at Kakenya have plenty of hope.

“Nobody really knows about all that here,” Alexis says.  “You don’t get the connection until you hear about it, and meet people who know.”

If more Staples students knew about the Kakenya School, she says, more would help.  And it’s easy:  Just $27 builds one school wall.

Teen Vital Voices has held bake sales.  They’ve decorated t-shirts for the girls.  They’re getting the word out through email, and a Facebook page.

“It’s not easy being a group of freshmen,” Alexis admits.  “But we’re trying.”

She’s also trying to get more boys to join Teen Vital Voices.  “It’s not just women’s issues — it’s about people,” she explains.

In just a few months, Teen Vital Voices has made an impact on Kenyans’ lives.  And on Alexis’.

“I’ve met some amazing women,” she says.  “They inspire me, and give me hope.”

Which is exactly what she and her friends do, from Westport to Africa.

(For more information on Teen Vital Voices, contact Alexis:  lilswimmer1294@aol.com)

25 responses to “Teens’ Vital Voices

  1. The Dude Abides

    There is no debate that Alexis is doing a wonderful thing with her organization.
    I applaud her for her efforts and energy.
    However, I often wonder why the focus is always international? Couldn’t Oprah have founded a
    school here in America or Madonna adopt a child from Alabama or perhaps Alexis discovered very similar problems (teen pregnancy, homelessness and rape) in Bridgeport??????????????????????????

    • I totally agree with the fact that there are many problems right infront of our eyes. The focus is not always internationally. Most of the clubs at Staples are helping hostpitals and organizations benifiting people in the US. I definitely support Alexis in her ideas so help people in international places because there are many people there that are worse off. Congratulations Alexis!!

    • I do think DudeAbides just doesn’t get it! There are many programs which deal with local issues. Alexis has chosen to focus her attention and interests on issues further afield. What on earth is wrong with that? Why is there always a need to reduce the value of what she is doing?

  2. The Dude Abides

    Actually, from a brief preview of the 86 clubs at Staples (and those easily identified as service orientated), there are 11 that are committed to projects internationally and 16 promulgated to American aid. Not exactly “most.” I question the why of this and can only surmise that it is far more glamorous to be associated with international efforts and perhaps (?), the reality of domestic poverty is just too hard a pill to swallow. But I can tell you from doing pro bono legal work with the Urban League for over five years, inner city poverty and problems are just as bad as anything you will find in Kenya. In fact, I find them much sadder in a rich country such as ours.

  3. Definition of “most:” the greatest in number. 16 is greater than 11, therefore “most” of the clubs… Anonymous was correct.

  4. Fundraising for a school in Kenya is not mutually exclusive to domestic charitable work.

  5. The Dude Abides

    Actually if you read Vital Voices’ mission statement, it does deal with only international issues cloaked in a gender based rhethoric. In regard to your compulsion to be right with the word “most,” “most” of the clubs at Staples don’t deal with any charitable work at all. Regardless, I don’t want this discussion to take anything away from Alexis’ efforts. However, with certain parallels, I am sure you are content with spending 10 billion a month in aid to Iraq rather than funding universal health care. My view is that our focus (and money) belongs at home.

  6. Brava to Alexis Texeira! Keep doing good work, Alexis. Schools and education are so important–everywhere.

  7. Bravo to The Dude Abides

    I agree completely with “The Dude”! There do seem to be to many clubs focusing on issues overseas… when the reality is that we should try and work on solving our own issues in OUR own towns and communities first!


    While this young lady’s work is certainly very nice and wonderful, The Dude Abides has a very good point. More effort should be taken in helping people in the U.S.

    Unfortunately, Anonymous’s efforts to win the argument were completely futile. Evidently Anonymous doesn’t know how math works, as 86 – 16 = 70… A far greater number (AKA “most”) than 16.

    Regardless, congrats to the young lady who has started this club. I’m sure great things will come from this.

  9. Frankly, it puzzles me that the Dude Abides would feel the necessity to criticize this club activity. Another club can be formed by someone else who feels the desire to help all the other programs he outlined. Perhaps Dude Abides can go to the school and form them. Alexis is doing what she sees will make a difference.

    The Dude Abides does not understand the mission of Vital Voices. Vital Voices seeks to help people help themselves. This is not an organization which just “pumps” money into foreign lands and with a feminist agenda. They train women leaders to participate in government; they provide training opportunities to help people start up businesses which have exponential benefits within their community. Yes, they do fight trafficking of individuals – men, women, and children. This abhorrent activity takes place in the USA as well as elsewhere.

    Teen Vital Voices has the opportunity to make a difference in the world AND at home. Everything done is aimed at making the world a better place. They are learning to be good citizens of the world and of the USA. Well done, Teen Vital Voices!

  10. World View – –

    As Dude Abides has clearly stated several times, he isn’t attempting to criticize Vital Voices nor the work they do. Rather, he was merely asking why more effort is not put into solving problems that we have in our own country.



  11. As someone stated above, who says it’s mutually exclusive? These same teens do other local charitable work too.
    If you read the blog, you would see that one main focus of the group is “Leadership Skills.”
    While you are certainly entitled to your opinion, why not choose a different forum to express it rather than posting these negative views as comments to a blog post about a group teens who are doing more than think about themselves all day long.
    Sham on you.

  12. I agree with the previous post–why criticize teens who are trying to better the lives of others? and yes there are so many problems in our own country that need addressing, but we are citizens of the world–helping others outside of the U.S. is good for the U.S. too.

  13. Bravo to The Dude Abides

    Just wondering Anonymous……. what is “sham”
    “sham on you” hmm puzzling

    There is no need to get heated in this argument…. this is America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. I think you would be surprised to see that many people actually don’t just “think about themselves all day long”!!!!!!! many of us are out doing wonderful things to not only benefit the community but the world as well… just as this young girl is doing

    sham on who?

  14. Shame on you

  15. The Dude Abides

    If you note the discourse of the blog discussion, it was in no way to be “negative” about the efforts of Alexis nor the efforts of her organization. The creator of this forum has done so to make “people think.” I have stated my view. People have responded in some very intelligent ways, either pro or con. Thus, the blog has been successful. That being said, words such as “shame” or attempts to ban an open forum do not belong here.

  16. “sham” on you dude

  17. Bravo to The Dude Abides

    Oh you meant shame! I feel tremendously besmirched by the stance you have taken on my perspective

  18. This is the best thing about living in the USA. Dialogue is good. I was perplexed as to why the Dude Abides would initially make a comment about a club which was formed to make a difference in the world. I understand his desire to have clubs formed to make a difference in the local area, but felt that it took away from what Teen Vital Voices was trying to accomplish. If that was not his intent, then great! Misunderstandings frequently happen and we have now settled that.
    Don’t make an issue about misspelling.

  19. Can’t we just all get along?

  20. The Innocent Bystander

    This country was founded on dissent and the polarization of diverse views continues today. Whether this is healthy or not is for historians or psychologists to debate. I believe that as long as we are talking, it is a good sign. When we stop and begin to “reload”, we are all in trouble.

  21. Alexis!
    Thanks to Dan Woog for finding out about you.
    We are very impressed with your interest and sensitivity to the needs of women in developing countries. Bravo to you and your class mates
    for seeing and understanding the issue, making a plan and giving the gift of Vital Voices!
    In a world where many people see issues and either don’t care or take action … you did! You have made a big difference. It’s remarkable.
    Please keep up the good work. All the … Best,
    Susan & Joe Hawley family

  22. jordan rubin

    I am a member of teen vital voices and believe that although giving aid to American societies is important, it is in no way more important than giving to people anywhere else in the world.
    Keep on doing your thing Alexis!