For a third year, girls in the tri-county area are being invited to participate in a free symposium meant to encourage and inspire them as they live their lives.
The Girls Empowering Girls Symposium is scheduled for Feb. 22 at the Elkin Rescue Squad, 940 N. Bridge St., from 6 to 8 p.m. this year.
Misty Matthews and Vickie Roberts have planned the symposium for the past three years, inspired by wanting to share a message with their own daughters of encouragement and reaching for their dreams.
“Girl Empowering Girls Symposium was created to inspire, empower, enlighten young girls that they can make their dreams happen,” said Matthews. “We want the girls to have hope and to keep their dreams alive no matter what they face along the way.”
The event is for girls ages 8 to 17, with the venue holding up to 75 people. Mothers and fathers don’t have to but are invited to stay for the program as well, but refreshments are first provided for the girls with any leftovers available to others attending.
“They will listen to local women talk about their dreams, journeys, bumps along the way that got them where they are today, living and doing what they love,” said Matthews.
This year, four women will share their stories. This is a smaller number of speakers than the past two years, because Matthews said the girls’ feedback was having too many was overwhelming.
Speaking this year will be Jessica Icenhour Roberts, tourism and marketing director for the Mount Airy Visitors Center and a certified tourism marketing professional; Holly Vaughn, instructor with Karate International in Elkin; Anderson Clayton, a freshman at Appalachian State University; and Crystal Morphis, who is a consultant with 20 years of economic development experience and founder and CEO of Creative Economic Development Consulting.
“When we look on Facebook, we see all these lives and think there were no bumps in the road, but when you hear the story, that’s not the case,” said Matthews. “A lot of these ladies had emotional securities to overcome like being shy.”
In addition to the speakers, Matthews said there will some activities which will allow the girls to get up and move around and do other things as well.
“Attending girls will be inspired by the dynamic and powerful experiences shared by our presenters,” she said.
Speakers each year are discovered through conversations with people in the community or by women who come to the organizers to volunteer to speak. They will then sent out invitations to see who is available for the event.
“People who are interested are welcome to contact us,” said Matthews, who added this will be Vickie Roberts’ last year helping organize the event because of the many other activities she’s involved in which take her time. “I’ll be looking for someone to help plan it from here out, and I always need a couple of volunteer to help the night of.”
In effort to keep expenses low, which include the refreshments and postcards that are sent out in the many area schools, the program has moved around the last three years to places which offer a venue for free. Also Heaven Scent is sponsoring this year’s event.
Goody bag items are another sponsorship need for the program.
“Last year we had 50 girls, and we can fit up to 75 in this year’s space,” Matthews said. “Right now we have 12 girls signed up, but that’s typical.”
She said she would love to see some older girls attend. “I think it would be helpful if they’re a little conflicted with their direction or unsure they’re going to be able to have money for college. A lot of these women worked and went to college as they could.”
The theme this year is “Why are you special,” explained Matthews. And Kristi Eidson will be handling a project where the girls attending can take the time to write down what makes them special.
For more information about the symposium or to reserve a seat, visit its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/girlsempoweringgirls or call Matthews at 336-749-4791.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.