The third annual Girls Empowering Girls Symposium was held Monday night. The free event was open to all girls ages 8 to 17.
Event coordinators, Misty Matthews and Vicki Roberts, hope to inspire courage and confidence in all girls. “Misty came up with an idea to have this event to help young girls feel good about themselves and learn that you can be anything you want to be,” said Roberts.
Dozens of girls attended the event at the Elkin Rescue Squad. The two-hour program consisted of guest speakers, crafts and activities, a full meal, and goodie bags.
The number of speakers was reduced from the previous years. “It was too long for the girls,” said Matthews.
Anderson Clayton, Crystal Morphis, Jessica Icenhour Roberts, Representative Sarah Stevens and Holly Vaughn volunteered their time to be this year’s guest speakers. “Each year the message seems to be a little different, depending on the speakers,” said Matthews, adding they work to find a wide variety of professions, ages and life experiences.
Clayton, a student at Appalachian State University and winner of a North Carolina Press Association award, shared the importance of trying new things and getting involved in one’s community. “It’s always in your best interest to try something new,” said Clayton, sharing a story about unwillingly taking a journalism class and discovering she loved it.
The owner of Creative Economic Development Consulting, Morphis introduced the idea of mentors and internships, stating she tried several career paths before discovering her passion for economics. “You are an experiment of one,” said Morphis, explaining no one starts out knowing the results of their experiment.
Icenhour Roberts, tourism and marketing director for Surry County, encouraged the group to embrace change, noting how her career has changed with developments in technology. “Change is going to happen and, in a workplace, you’ve got to be able to embrace it,” she said.
Sharing that she is taking an oil painting class with her 79-year-old mother, Stevens advised the girls to pursue life-long learning. “Every day do something a little outside your comfort zone,” Stevens said.
Vaughn, a fifth-degree black belt and martial arts instructor at Karate International, shared her story of overcoming shyness and building confidence. “I had a day when I felt like flexing my courage muscle,” said Vaughn, explaining how simply accepting an invitation led to a life-altering experience.
A new component this year, activities included a rock/paper/scissors tournament, photo booth, and “things I like about myself” craft. “We wanted to get kids moving a little bit and to interact with each other,” said Matthews.
“I want the girls to understand that you can be shy and still be very successful. You can have trouble making ends meet going to college, but don’t give up. It’s not easy for a lot of people, but because they have the passion for it they figure a way out to make it work,” said Matthews.
The event relies on sponsorships and donations. The rescue squad provided use of its building, Heaven Scent provided the catering, and donations were made to fill goodie bags.
“Vicki has told me that this is her last year for doing Girls Empowering Girls with me,” said Matthews, adding, “She has empowered me to do some things and given me that push.” Kristi Eidson is filling her place to help with future Girls Empowering Girls events.
Matthews is brewing a new idea to offer community field trips for girls to “let them learn more about the community they are in and what’s available.” Some possible locations include the airport, the fire house and the museum.
“It’s going to be evolving until we get the right mix,” Matthews explained. Future events will be posted on the Girls Empowering Girls Facebook page.
Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.