By Kiara Amaya
The love for empowering women is an easily observable quality in senior and International Baccalaureate (IB) student Lily Galvan. Her energy and excitement for helping others evidently radiates when talking about her Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) project, Yes Means Yes. Galvan’s sweet nature and empathetic persona have inspired her to spread awareness and implement support programs concerning consent, survivor support, and healthy relationships through her platform.
Each student in the IB program is required to take on a CAS project in order to strengthen students’ collaboration, determination, and problem-solving skills, all while fostering experiential learning. The community service-based projects are a two-year commitment.
Galvan hopes her program will help people easily find resources and support in order to guide them in their journey as sexual assault survivors. After realizing how widespread sexual assault is, Galvan felt inspired to pursue this as her CAS project.
“I knew a lot of people who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment. I think it has sadly become normalized in our society” Galvan said. “As women, we are sexualized in a society that finds gender as an invitation to make comments about our bodies or sexuality. I had an epiphany of sorts where I realized that this is an issue that I could create solutions for.”
Beginning this project in 2020, Galvan’s junior year, she has created an online website as well as virtual and in-person events to further her cause. She is working to make her website more inclusive and easier to use. Her website includes a compilation of resources for youth, support groups, networks, and hotlines for sexual assault survivors. Both the Wellness Center and the Health Office will be including Galvan’s site on their own websites.
“The first thing I did was create an Instagram account,” Galvan said. “I use the platform to help people deal with different concepts such as consent, and healthy relationships. I also identify what some red flags are in relationships. Our community events are different depending on if they’re in-person or virtual. For our first ever in-person event, I partnered with a nonprofit organization called Survivor Cards, who provided us with supplies to write anonymous cards that spread support to LGBTQIA+ survivors of sexual assault and harrassment. We wanted to tell them that we are here for them and they are not alone.”
Galvan also organized an open mic night event to create bonds with the project’s members and establish a safe space for them to share their experiences.
“We went to a cafe, set up, and had different people talk about points in their lives where they survived something,” Galvan said. “We understand that fortunately not everyone is a sexual assault survivor. However, we wanted to show that we are all survivors of something and should therefore have a common bond to create a community that’s inclusive and doesn’t hide that.”
Galvan is currently working on a consent workshop with the IB seniors in their Theory of Knowledge class.
Galvan hopes to continue organizing events in the future to spread awareness and hopes to share preventative measures to implement in our society.
“Sometimes when we say ‘yes means yes’ or ‘no means no,’ we put the blame on a person responding to events when really we should be focusing on preventative measures,” Galvan said. “We should focus on dealing with how we define consent in our relationships and how we see consent in our society.”
Dedication to supporting people sets Galvan apart and makes her project incredibly impactful.
“Our website helps show people that there is a group of people who acknowledge that society has a problem with sexual assault and harrassment,” Galvan said. “We have an epidemic of people and perpetrators sexually abusing or hurting people. I want people to know that there is someone out there who cares, and that they’re not alone and it’s not their fault. As long as one person knows that and feels supported, that’s the biggest impact I hope to have.”
Anyone hoping to join in on future events can reference the Yes Means Yes Instagram account. Everyone is welcome to attend. The website is yesmeansyes22.my.canva.site.
“You do not need to be a sexual assault survivor to come,” Galvan said. “I really want this to be something that is more than just mitigating the problem. I want this project to help prevent the cycle from even happening. That starts when you realize that your behaviors matter. The more voices we can include, the better.”