Fitting in. Getting good grades. Friend drama. Making the team. Wearing the “right” clothes. Future plans.
Girls today might be thinking about some of the same things we did when we were their age. It’s very likely, however, that girls today have a whole other set of concerns which make their lives even more complicated. Maybe it’s finding out about a party she wasn’t invited to because of a photo posted on Instagram, or perhaps it’s splitting time between mom and dad’s house and getting along with step-siblings. It could be that she is falling asleep at the dinner table because of her hours of homework each night, in addition to extracurriculars. The barrage of Photoshopped images from magazines, videos and online might make her decide to go on a diet, so that she can be as skinny as her favorite actress.
Each year, girls in Texas have the opportunity to attend a one-day conference to help them manage these unique pressures of girlhood. Local nonprofit GENaustin hosts the We Are Girls Conference, which reaches almost 2,000 girls and the adults in their lives annually. This year’s conference, targeting girls 8-18 and adults, will take place on Saturday, November 15th from 8am-3pm at Austin High School. Registration ends on Thursday, November 14th.
The theme of the 7th Annual We Are Girls Conference is “Take the Lead”, and the event features speakers such as Ragen Chastain, the blogger behind Dances With Fat; SaulPaul, a singer-songwriter and speaker and Jaime Horn, who works to develop young women leaders. The day will kick off with a pep rally and an address from each of the featured speakers. Girls and adults can then choose from 45 workshops to attend on topics such as body image, bullying, relationships and entrepeneurship.
For the first time, the conference will be open to girls in third and fourth grades. According to GENaustin’s Special Events Manager, Blair Stirek, more and more requests came in to provide opportunities for younger girls to attend, so the conference now has a wider audience. To appeal to these girls, new workshops have been added, such as BizGlam Business Plan Writing, which teaches girls how to start their own business. In addition, this year GENaustin is offering a new Pathfinder track at We Are Girls to help high school girls on their road to independence. As Pathfinder Curriculum Developer, Rachel Ladov, explains, “It’s designed to give girls a sneak peek into GENaustin’s Pathfinder Summer Leadership Summit.” Pathfinder is designed to give girls the skills, access and self-knowledge to be leaders and have a successful entrance into the professional world.
Blair hopes that girls take memories from the conference and reflect back on the experience for many years to come. She hopes parents leave with many resources to tap into in the future. We Are Girls also showcases the programs that GENaustin offers throughout the year. When asked what she looks forward to most about the day, Blair replied, “The energy. Having that many people excited to be there for one reason is emotional, beautiful and intoxicating.”
Although the challenges girls face over time may change, girls in Texas and the adults in their lives are lucky to have one day each year when they can get answers from experts and celebrate what it means to be a girl.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Nicole-Basham-Sara-Marzani-Photography-livemom.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 8-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau’s words, her mission is to “suck out all the marrow of life”, or in her son’s words, to cultivate in him a love of “advenchers”.[/author_info] [/author]