Middle and high school girls throughout the community will come together to explore what makes a healthy relationship as part of the eighth annual Girl Power event at 8 a.m. Jan. 27 in the Brenau Downtown Center.
Titled “#BetterMeBetterWe,” the workshop is put on by WomenSource, a nonprofit organization in Hall County that provides educational programming to empower women.
“WomenSource is primarily focused on adult women,” said Elizabeth Burnette, executive director of the organization. “But we wanted to do one program a year that was a little more focused on tweens and teens. It’s kind of a proactive approach to give them the tools they need early in life.”
Girl Power 2018: #BetterMeBetterWe
When: 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: Brenau Downtown Center, 301 Main St. SW, Gainesville
How much: Free
This year, Girl Power will focus on what it means to make healthy relationship choices.
Burnette said some of the ideas they will explore include dependency and decisions regarding social media.
“We believe that the better you feel about yourself, the better choices you’ll make in your community,” she said. “The higher level of self-worth you have, recognizing and being able to own your worthiness, will hopefully guide you away from making negative relationship choices.”
The event will include breakfast and lunch, an opening session with a keynote speaker, breakout sessions and even door prizes and giveaways.
The keynote speaker will be LeAnn Gardner, a licensed clinical social worker from Charleston, S.C.
“I heard her speak at another event and immediately knew that she would be a wonderful Girl Power speaker,” Burnette said. “She’s very engaging and speaks in a way that teenagers will hear what she’s saying. She takes a very direct and very forward approach to the language she uses.”
Gardner, LISW-CP, said she will speak about what she has seen in her therapy practice.
“Basically the theme is healthy relationships (but) it’s not just dating, which people always think of first when they think of teens,” she said. “A lot of teenagers have toxic friendships too, so I’ll be talking about that. I hope they can use some practical tools that I give to use in their relationships.”
And she said she will also address the women in the audience.
“Teen years is a very unique developmental stage,” she said. “I think the grown-ups in these kids’ lives can be very, very powerful in helping shape their narrative about themselves and about the world.”
The sessions, which will cover the topics of romantic partnerships, healthy friendships and social media relationships, will be led by Brenau students.
“We did that on purpose this year because we wanted the session leaders to be a little bit closer in age to the girls,” Burnette said.
The half-day workshop will be free for both the girls and the women who bring them.
“It could be an aunt, it could be a counselor, it could be a mom, it could be a grandmother, it could be a neighbor,” she said about the potential chaperones. “We really wanted any woman who feels connected to a young girl to be able to bring her to this workshop.”
She said for every 10 girls there will need to be at least one chaperone.
“It’s about wanting to make sure the girls are chaperoned, but also wanting to make sure they’re connected with someone that they can process the experience with afterwards,” she said. “Typically the topics that we cover are pretty heavy. They’re a topic that you might want to talk with someone about afterwards.”
She said the topic for this year was chosen by a committee of women comprised of WomenSource board members, women who have brought their kids to the event in the past and community members, includingwomen who are involved at Brenau.
“We just kind of brainstorm ideas and then we focus in on the one we really think most teenage girls are having to face,” she said. “So that committee of women chooses the topic based on what they see is most needed.”
Preregistration for the event is required by emailing Elizabeth Burnette at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to register is Jan. 12.