"Funny Girls" teaches leadership through improvisation

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders.

For one group of 8- to 13-year-olds in the Bronx, their training starts with using improvisation to find their voice. “Funny Girls” is a project started by the Harnisch Foundation that combines improv exercises with leadership training.

These young girls have the opportunity to develop leadership abilities through exercises that teach them how to be bold, creative, and most importantly, confident.

Research from Harvard suggests that many teen boys and girls have biases against teen girls as leaders, so Funny Girls is a way to normalize females in leadership roles.

On top of that, the program encourages these young women to express themselves freely. One participant gathered enough courage to audition for the leading role in her school’s musical and was selected as the star!

Improv is a fantastic way to build self-confident and self-awareness. “There is no right or wrong in improv,” said Jenny Raymond, the Harnisch Foundation Executive Director. “Failure is held at bay, and every contribution that the girls make is valued.”

Acting out strange scenes and stepping into different characters sounds much more entertaining than sitting in class taking notes!

‘Funny Girls’ is also teaching women the value of one another because students often work together to make a scene interesting and fluid. Not only do participants find their own voice, but they also uplift the voices of others.

This type of solidarity coincides with the women’s movements we’ve seen over the last year such as Time’s Up and the Women’s March.

Sometimes all it takes is someone to give you that ‘extra push’ to get you down the right path or to follow your dreams, and that is exactly what ‘Funny Girls’ has done for these Bronx students. Maybe one day we’ll see them run for president or other leadership positions.

What are some other ways besides improv that could teach leadership skills? Let us know your ideas in the comments section below!