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Girl Power event focused on building self-confidence
Seminar for teens held by WomenSource at Brenau
Leigh Cumiskey, an East Hall High School guidance counselor, talks about preparing for college and dual enrollment Saturday during Girl Power, a WomenSource event for teens and women, at the Burd Center at Brenau University. The daylong event focused on subjects such as education, healthy dating relationships and media influence on teenage girls. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Women of all ages gathered on Brenau University's campus Saturday for the second annual Girl Power WomenSource event.

Attendees listened to four speakers discuss healthy relationships, understanding body image and how to notice signs of dangerous behavior. There was also a discussion on college and college life and a fashion show demonstrating what not to wear to job interviews, on a first date and other events.

Laura Haynes, program coordinator for WomenSource, said the goal of the event was to build self-confidence in girls and women.

"It really is an event for teenagers to help show them they can lead a healthy lifestyle and be empowered," she said. "It shows them positive information and that college is a possibility for everyone. We want to be that encouragement and source of empowerment for women of all ages."

According to Haynes, the idea for the Girl Power event came from a comment on one of the surveys handed out at another function. The comment offered the idea of an event geared toward teenagers and their mothers. The WomenSource committee brainstormed a way they could actively reach teens, which led to Girl Power.

"It's always a lot of fun and we hope it continues to grow," Haynes said. "We do want to make it relevant, so we have different speakers each time, but all discussions have the same thread of empowering teens and women."

Three generations of the McDonald family were present at the event. Shelby McDonald, mother Marie and grandmother Joan came out together to learn from the speakers.

Marie and Joan have attended previous WomenSource events and enjoyed their experience.

"I would say we've learned a lot about the importance of communication. The more knowledge you have, the easier you can prevent something," said Joan McDonald.

Unlike her mother and grandmother, Girl Power was Shelby's first event.

"I learned that I need to be a little bit more careful when it comes to guys and how they act," Shelby said. "I really enjoyed the self defense lecture."

Mother and daughter say they plan on looking into joining a self defense class together.

There was also a group of girls from the Probation Office accompanied by Dawn Labell. Labell brought 24 girls and eight mothers.

"I thought it would be good for the self-esteem and also provide bonding time with their parents," Labell said.

Labell said she would be more than willing to come back next year.

"I love watching the smiles on their faces. I hope they take away a positive body image and the knowledge that they're not all cookie-cutters. They are all unique and wonderful," Labell said.

Though the subject matter was serious, the day ended with a raffle for prizes between gift cards and MP3 players, a comedic fashion show and lunch provided by the university. The girls were also offered a tour of Brenau's campus.

The staff of WomenSource are already looking forward to the next Girl Power event in 2013.