Have you ever realized that the little girls you see waiting for their moms to pick them up after school will grow up to be the women of our world? Have you ever wondered what kind of preparation they're receiving for that future?
One way to help them prepare is an event called Live Your Dream, put on by two area Soroptimist International chapters and dedicated to helping junior high girls realize their potential to change the future of our communities and the world, as well as to encourage them to live their dreams.
The second annual Live Your Dream workshop took place Saturday at Modesto Junior College and included several workshops on healthy relationships, self-defense and beauty tips, as well as keynote speaker Marla Nawiocki on the media's effect on healthy self-image.
The event started two years ago because of Soroptimist International's requirement to plan a "Saturday of Service," and its desire to help young girls.
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Christi Tipsword, who helped plan the event, believes events like these "teach girls life skills they maybe wouldn't learn at school."
She also has a strong belief that attending the workshops offered at the event encourages girls to live their dreams by "giving them tools and opportunities they wouldn't learn in everyday life."
Like self-defense. Angelica Navarro, a 13-year-old from Modesto's Hanshaw Middle School, enjoyed it when the demonstrators broke bricks.
She liked the rest of the conference, too, saying that it "helps with the future and what to do." She strongly encourages other girls to attend "because it shows them what to do and how to live a better life."
Naomi Jones, a Soroptimist member, agreed. "It gives them a bigger view of the world, and insight to what's out there," she said. "It empowers them to do more."
The event also stressed the idea that young women have the potential to change their communities and, before long, the world. Tipsword holds a strong belief that girls have the power to change their futures for the better.
"Educating themselves and providing themselves with opportunities gives them the tools necessary to show the power of one woman," she said.
Tipsword believes the young women of today have "a lot of pressure on them such as body image and not knowing who they are."
The keynote address focused on the images mass media throw at young women and how unrealistic they are.
"The media portrays a body type that's not realistic and not healthy, and we want to bring light to that. We want to show them you don't have to look the same to be beautiful," says Tipsword.
Jones commented, "It's degrading. The media is slowly etching away at us and affecting our self-esteem, even males."
Fourteen-year-old eighth-grader Teresa Borroel from Hanshaw Middle School had a blast at the event, claiming her favorite part was the self-defense portion, where a group of black belts taught the girls how to scream, as well as what to do when attacked.
She believes girls her age should attend events like these "so they can learn about self-defense and other stuff they don't know about."
Jones has high hopes the event will encourage girls to try new experiences and not be afraid to explore their world.
"They're looking for someone else, and it's getting harder to find," she said. "That's why you have to look outside your boundaries. Had I not seen outside my perimeter, I would not be where I am today."
Emily Shrader is a sophomore at Enochs High School and is a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program.