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Salem Academy Brings the Red Boot Coalition to High-School Level

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
photo of Molly Barker with Academy students

Salem Academy is the first high school in the nation to start a chapter of the Red Boot Coalition. Created by the successful founder of Girls on the Run, Molly Barker, the Red Boot Coalition seeks to create an open space for nation-wide dialogue about politics, religion, economics, and ethnicity. Group conversations are crafted around eleven steps, which include principles like empowerment, transparency, love, gratefulness, and joy. The eleventh step is action and engagement.

Meeting once a week, Salem students will have the opportunity to discuss impactful issues in a safe, welcoming environment. The Red Boot Coalition, launched only a few months ago, has chapters in North Carolina, Arizona, and Missouri and will branch out to Colorado, Illinois, Virginia, Alabama, Ohio, New York, and Michigan in the new year.

Barker brought energy, enthusiasm, and heart to her November 19 visit to campus. “Stand strong. Stay true. Be yourself. And love, love, love. Never ever forget the love,” she said to more than 150 girls in Salem’s auditorium. During her hour-long presentation, she invited students to share their opinions and to ask questions, as she spoke candidly about her misguided adolescent decisions, to the success of Girls on the Run, and the failure of her 2013 effort, “Run 2 Lead.”

Encouraging students to turn failures into new dreams, Barker shared her journey from failure to the launch of the Red Boot Coalition earlier this year. A cross-country road trip, during which she held impromptu conversations with locals in each town she visited, served as her inspiration to encourage communities to create spaces that welcome all opinions and hold no room for judgment. 

Red boots stand as a symbol of courage and joy for Barker. After wearing her favorite pair during a 2010 TEDx presentation, they’ve become an icon– a surefire conversation starter no matter where she goes. They inspire the sharing of stories and collaboration between friends, new and old.

Academy Latin teacher Lauren Rogers, who invited Barker to speak at Salem, recognized her potential to connect with students. “Her success as the founder of Girls on the Run, along with her unique vision for the Red Boot Coalition, make her an ideal advocate for leadership in the twenty-first century,” Rogers said.

The Salem Academy chapter of the Red Boot Coalition will meet on Wednesdays from 12:00 ­– 1:00 pm.

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