Over the course of their 12-week program girls between the ages of 10 to 15 form discussion groups to develop critical leadership skills. Unleashed coaches - professional women with degrees in fields such as counseling, social work and psychology - help start the conversation about animal rights, and the girls take over from there. They attend panel discussions and hear from expert women in the field of animal welfare. Then the girls vote on the issues each team will focus on - animal abuse, overpopulation, puppy mills or neglect, to name a few - and formulate a plan to educate the community about those issues.
"Whether they want to set up a booth at a social justice event, a presentation for their school, write an article for us or for their school newspaper or design posters with pictures, it's all girl driven," Radin explains.
The girls also volunteer at Unleashed's puppy rescue. "It's a full-blown puppy rescue," Radin says, "because my model of social change is that if you're out there advocating for a cause you should have firsthand experience with the population you're advocating for." Once a month they socialize the dogs, help with intake and registration and do temperament testing to learn each puppy's personality in order to place them in the most compatible foster homes. (Graduates of the program who remain involved throughout high school, also work at the rescue and volunteer as handlers at adoption events throughout the city.)