Teen activist photo

Kyle MacLellan

MONROE — Kyle MacLellan is a high school senior who has created an organization for young women that aims to empower women and volunteer in the community.

MacLellan attends Central Academy of Technology and Arts (CATA), a high-achieving magnet school in Monroe. MacLellan created Sustainable Sisters — a student activist group — during her summer break in 2020. The organization was formed virtually over Zoom. To generate interest outside of school, MacLellan used social media, in addition to texting girls she thought would be interested in joining.

“I was very reluctant to put my idea out there,” MacLellan said. “I didn’t want to put myself out there and then people say ‘oh yeah, that’s cool but it’s not something I would do.’ ”

MacLellan said it took time for her to build up the courage to start Sustainable Sisters; however, knowing that teenagers today are becoming more interested in social activism, she decided to reach out to her female peers.

She said about 20 girls attended an interest meeting. Today, they have about 11 regular members.

Because MacLellan created Sustainable Sisters outside of school, she doesn’t have assistance from a teacher, which she said can present a challenge when managing time between homework, being on the track team and running Sustainable Sisters.

When working on Sustainable Sisters, MacLellan organizes volunteer projects as well as weekly virtual meetings, their podcast called “Mixed Messages” and managing the group’s website, YouTube channel, social media pages as well as starting the group’s blog.

Recently, Sustainable Sisters hosted a double donation drive for school supplies and donated $125 worth of goods to My Sister’s House and collected supplies for Time Out Youth Center in Charlotte.

At their weekly meetings, twelve young women discuss issues like mental health, racism and women’s rights.

“The conversations we first had were very powerful,” MacLellan said, “I’m surrounded by very intelligent and very active young women who want to do what I want to do and that’s really inspiring for them and for me.”

By not establishing Sustainable Sisters at school, the group does not have to adhere to school guidelines which means they are free to discuss any topic they want. MacLellan wants Sustainable Sisters to be a safe space where young women do not feel limited in talking about their life experiences.

MacLellan plans to attend college and hopes to continue the organization in college. Eventually, she hopes its existence and influence will reach girls and young women across the state, nation and world.

She’s undecided on a college, but knows that she would like to focus on either urban studies or architecture.