[Photo by: Maverick/Facebook]
Former Disney executives Brooke Chaffin and Catherine Connors have launched a social media platform jut for girls, with its aim being to foster creativity while introducing them to inspiring role models.
The pair announced the launch of Maverick on Friday, a social network geared for girls between the ages of 10 and 20.
“Maverick aims to provide girls and young women with ongoing opportunities to exercise their powers of creativity, curiosity, and daring in the years of their lives when they are still comfortable being messy, ambitious, and unapologetic,” Connors told HuffPost. “This is with the hope and expectation that they will become practiced and comfortable in experimenting and taking risks, in challenging the pressures of perfection, in being their real, powerful, authentic selves, and in working together ― and that they will carry them forward into adulthood, and use them to make their own futures and change the world.”
With Maverick, which is availble in both a free iOS app and a desktop experience, users have the opportunity to participate in video, photo and text-based challenges such as creating your own superhero, creating posters for meaningful causes, and even creating lyrics for their own personal anthems.
The challenges come from “Catalysts” or role models from a variety of different fields that are meant to inspire the users or “Mavericks” as they're called within the site. After the young “Mavericks” share their work in response to challenges, users are able to view and reward each other's work with comments and badges in categories such as “unique,” “creative” and “unstoppable”.
Chaffins and Connors work with the roles models, girl educators and even “girl experts” to develop the challenges that they hope will create experiences that are thought-provoking while inspiring creativity.
The Disney execs met while working at the Walt Disney Company where Chaffin led Disney Interactive's women and family division and Connors was editor-in-chief at Babble.
Connors shared that the idea for Maverick actually began some years before her time at Disney, while she was pursuing a career in academia.
“My area was women and girls in social thought, with a particular focus on how they assert themselves ― or rather, historically, how they’re unable to assert themselves ― in the public sphere. So I was very familiar with all of the research on what’s sometimes called ‘loss of voice’ or the confidence gap ― the phenomenon, around puberty and early adolescence, whereby girls go from being assertive and outspoken to not using their voices, not raising their hands, dropping out of sports, etc.,” Connors shares.
After both left Disney, Connors and Caffins reconnected to use their digital media experience to bring Maverick to life.
“Girls and young women do feel extraordinary pressure to be perfect and likable and to follow the rules. Much of their current social media engagement increases that pressure,” says Connors. “Maverick’s emphasis on creative messiness and authenticity allows girls to be able to push back against the myths of perfection – and to meaningfully exercise their very real powers.”
Maverick has already received some broader support, with $2.7 million raised in fundraising from investors such as LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner.
The company is also offering a live event that will take place across the country in the form of MaverickLIVE, a day of events that will connect young Mavericks and Catalytsts and celebrate girls' achievements in areas such as comedy, sports, music, art and design.
The first MaverickLIVE event will take place in Los Angeles on April 28 and feature “Founding Mavericks” like Laurie Hernandez, Chloe and Halle Bailey, Brooklyn and Bailey McKnight, Daunnette Reyome and Ruby Karp.
Some parents expressed concerned about the social media network and online privacy.
“We are very focused on protecting the privacy of our users and protecting their personal data,” Chaffin told HuffPost, explaining that users under the age of 13 need parental to use the platform. Parents also have the ability to view their child's content through Maverick's parent portal.
“Personal information requested to register on Maverick, such as date of birth, is collected only for authentication and is stored by trusted third-party providers,” Chaffins adds. “We do not share Mavericks’ personal information with anyone.”
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