On Friday, April 10th, the MMS counselors, Mrs. Scully, and a group of approximately 40 girls (from 6th through 8th grade) traveled to Colby College in Waterville for the annual Girls Rock! Conference, put on by the Hardy Girls Healthy Women organization. A small group from MMS attended the conference last year, and we were fortunate this year to be able to bring a much larger group! We arrived at MMS early in the morning and headed off on the 2 hour bus ride to Colby. Upon arrival, we registered and the girls were able to spend a little time exploring the “action stations” that were set up. Stations included activities such as creating prayer flags, taking photos with positive messages projected onto the girls and in an oversized frame, and the “Yay yourself” scale, which when stood upon provided the girls with positive messages about themselves rather than their weight.
The opening presentations for the conference were given by high school students affiliated with the Hardy Girls organization, the “Girls Advisory Board” or the GAB girls. Presentations were about the portrayal of women in the media (in advertising and comedy, specifically), female leaders around the world, what it means to be a female leader, and the definition of feminism. Then students attended workshops led by members of the Girls Advisory Board and Colby students. Here are brief descriptions of the workshops attended by students:
Dress Yourself- Girls wrote their own dress code and engaged in open discussion regarding their thoughts and opinions on dress codes in schools.
Beyoncification- Girls learned about their favorite celebrities and role models and their impact on their fans.
Selfies- This session focused on how selfies can be empowering tools of expression. Girls discussed the media’s influence on beauty, shared tips for embracing body positivity and good self esteem, and the feminist view of selfies.
Women vs. Food- Girls discussed some of the pressures on teen girls to eat and look a certain way, and how they can fight them and build healthy relationships with themselves and food.
Girls Around the World- This session focused on what girls are doing to empower themselves in other parts of the world and about what big ideas can fuel change both here and abroad.
Be the Change- Girls learned about the amazing things girl activists are doing online and on the ground to challenge media sexism and to make their schools and communities safe places for everyone.
The adults had a separate workshop addressing how to create “hardiness zones” for girls to help them grow up to their full potential. A delicious lunch of pizza and salad was provided, and the wrap-up of the day helped girls review what they had learned, if they learned something new that day, or had made a new friend. The day culminated in a dance party on the stage with attendees and the presenters. A lot of fun and learning happened and we look forward to bringing a group back to the conference next year if possible!