Feature Article - October 2005
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That Feminine Mystique

Solving the mystery of successfully marketing to women

By Stacy St. Clair

Scouts' honor

Tapping into a woman's imagination sometimes means revisiting her girlhood dreams. Such programs can bring female patrons back to a time when they were fearless, willing to face challenges and try new things.

Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas understood this when she began working on her book, You Can Do It! As a former Girl Scout, she was familiar with merit badges and remembered the sense of accomplishment she felt when she earned one.

She wanted to provide that same experience and feeling to adult women. Grandcolas, who was devoted to fitness and outdoor adventures, particularly hoped to offer an outlet to her close-knit group of friends, women who always talked about wanting to try new things but lamented they didn't have the time.

"She envisioned You Can Do It! as something that would encourage women to get out there and try all aspects of life," says her younger sister, Vaughn Catuzzi Lohec.

Unfortunately, Grandcolas never saw her dream become a reality. She was among the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into a Pennsylvania field after being hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

Her sisters, Lohec and Dara Catuzzi Near, decided to finish the book in her memory. The result is handbook that aims to start a national movement and could be a boon to recreation programs everywhere.

The book contains 60 different badges, or chapters. It's organized into seven sections: dare, create, learn, play, deal, connect and dream. The badges run the gamut from cooking to travel to photography—topics taught at park districts throughout the country.

Recreation professionals also will be happy to see the book encourages a large number of fitness programs and outdoor activities. It spurs women to try yoga, dance, surfing and horseback riding.

And Grandcolas, who enjoyed hiking, kayaking and inline skating, would have loved the idea of women exploring these pursuits, her sister says.

"Lauren was a can-do spirit who dedicated herself to tackling and mastering new skills," Lohec says.

Each badge guides women through the learning process from beginning to end. The book includes personal stories and advice from female experts.

At the end of each chapter, there's a round sticker, a fun reward reminiscent of Grandcolas' beloved Girl Scout badges.

There's also an impressive online community for devotees. The book's Web site offers newsletters, resources and message boards to help women achieve their goals.

This is where park districts and other recreation facilities can step in. The book gives women the inspiration and the idea, but someone needs to provide opportunity.

Park districts, especially, may want to consider pairing with a local book store to form a You Can Do It! support group. They also could reach out to local mom's groups, women's organizations and social clubs.

By introducing the book in yoga classes or enrichment courses, recreation professionals will be encouraging women to try new classes and building patronage at the same time.

And, most importantly, it will help make Grandcolas' dream of empowering women a reality.