HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - It's tough being a teenage girl. While it's a time of great growth, for many teens the adolescent years are also filled with confusion, low-self esteem and self-doubt. That's why next month hundreds of local girls will get a day devoted to examining their hopes, fears and dreams.
The 2013 Young Women Lead Conference for High School Girls aims to give Greater Cincinnati girls support and resources to explore the unique strengths that will propel them into the future.
The annual conference is Oct. 15 at the Bank of Kentucky Center at Northern Kentucky University. The one-day event is designed to challenge teens "to reach higher levels of personal growth and development."
Sarah Setters, a Simon Kenton High senior, attended last year's conference. She's planning to study special education for deaf students once she graduates form high school. Setters said last year's conference taught her practical skills and boosted her self-confidence.
"Our main speaker really encouraged us to be confident in who were were. The speakers really encouraged us to succeed and not to give up," Setters said. "I also learned more about how to prevent bullying in school, and how to manage a bank account."
1,000 girls expected to attend
"This is a place where young women can talk about the issues affecting them that they can't get anyplace else," said conference organizer Sally Schott. Schott is the founder and CEO of SOAR, a professional development program for women identified as potential leaders at their workplaces.
The third annual Cincinnati conference is organized by SOAR members as a way to give back to the community, Schott explained.
"There is really no other conference like this in the U.S. where girls can gather some tools to help them make the right choices in life. They're exposed very inspiring role models," she said
The conference is free, and open to girls in the ninth through 12th grades who attend Greater Cincinnati schools.
Registration is open through Sept. 27. This year a thousand girls are expected to attend from schools in Northern Kentucky and the Cincinnati area.
- Register online: http://www.youngwomenlead.com/cincinnati/registration-cincinnati/
Students get an excused absence to attend the conference and transported to and from the conference by bus.
Last year's conference maxed out at 750 attendees. It was moved to the Bank of Kentucky Center this year to accommodate more people, Schott said.
Young Women Lead conferences are either planned or underway in the five other cities that have SOAR programs, including in Louisville and Lexington, and Evansville, Ind.
"This started in Evansville, then we started rolling them out progressively in more and more cities. We hope eventually to make this a national program, Schott said
Debra Gano, CEO and publisher of "Be Your Own You" Magazine, is the conference keynote speaker. Gano, also author of the "Heartlight Girls" series and a national self-esteem speaker, will talk about listening to your inner voice.
"Her message is about making the right choices, it's about positive self-esteem and self-image," Schott said
Also scheduled to speak is Cassandra Perkins, BYOU "Be Your Own You" magazine teen spokesmodel and anti-bullying, certified Internet & mobile safety advocate.
Following the speakers, the girls can choose among several breakout sessions to attend. They include:
- Be a Financial Success
- Be Confident
- Be Bold-Safety First
It takes a team of volunteers and sponsors to put together a conference for a thousand people. In addition to free admission, transportation and lunch, participants get a goody bag including beauty products.
Toyota, which has a corporate presence in Greater Cincinnati, is a major conference sponsor. Helen Carroll, community relations manager for Toyota, said the company wants to support the region's girls who will be the leaders of tomorrow.
"The opportunity to help empower high schools girls to better understand themselves, to see potential they have for the future, and to learn that they are not alone in dealing with some everyday issues presents itself at Young Women Lead," Carroll said. "If we can impact the life or future of just one girl through this conference, we consider our support well worth it. And, if we can encourage a few to continue their education in a field like engineering or manufacturing, that’s great for our business in the future."
Connect with WCPO contributor Feoshia Davis on Twitter: @feoshiawrites