In honor of Women’s History Month, the Buffalo Bills teamed up with South Park High School to treat a group of young women in grades nine through twelve to a fun-filled and educational afternoon at the movie theatre. Led by Michelle Summar of Child & Adolescent Treatment Services, the women got to see “Hidden Figures,” a critically-acclaimed film that sheds light on a pivotal moment in women’s history.
The inspirational film tells the true story of three African American women who worked behind the scenes at NASA in the 1960s during the height of the Space Race. A team of brilliant and determined mathematicians, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn helped establish the United States as a leader in space exploration and technology. While working diligently to develop their careers, the women were also confronted with segregation. Despite the societal injustice, the trio defied the odds and rose through the ranks at NASA. Without the pioneers, John Glenn’s iconic 1962 launch into orbit would not have been possible.
The film’s overarching message of perseverance in the face of adversity, is one that Summar hopes will resonate with the teens.
“I think it’s very good for this group of girls in particular [to see the film] because they are very strong-willed girls,” said Summar. “So I think [it’s good] to have them see girls that are also strong, in a positive manner. I think it’s nice for the girls to see that other people are seeing the great work that they’re doing and reaching out and trying to get them involved in things outside of school.”
Like the women featured in “Hidden Figures,” the ambitious students of South Park High School each have goals for what they want to achieve after they graduate. Summar, who serves as the Coordinator for the 21st Century Program at South Park, works closely with the women and other students throughout the school year. The program, which offers academic and enrichment support, seeks to provide the youth with the tools they need to succeed.
For Deja Smith, a gifted sophomore who is currently enrolled in junior and senior level coursework, the outing proved to be a positive experience.
“It was a good experience…I learned a lot from it,” said Smith when reflecting on the evening.
An aspiring doctor, Smith and the rest of the women from South Park High School will take the lessons they learned from the empowering film as they strive to make their own mark on history.