Middle and high school girls heard a special presentation Wednesday about the importance of self-respect and setting goals.
“Choose significance over success,” public speaker Jackie Brewton said to eighth-grade students from East Hall and Gainesville middle schools, explaining that significance has an impact on others, while success may not. “How your adult life is going to look depends on choices you’re making right now.”
Brewton left her corporate career with Procter & Gamble 12 years ago to reach young women as they face important decisions, especially as they embark on romantic relationships.
“In seeing this and hearing this, it is our hope and desire that the kids will listen and make better choices,” said Audrey Simmons, eighth-grade academy principal at Gainesville Middle.
Simmons said teenage girls sending provocative pictures of themselves to boys is a national problem. She said she hopes the messages Brewton shared would stave off that problem locally.
“Years and years ago, girls were afraid to even talk to a boy,” Simmons said about the middle school students. “Now, it’s a different story.”
Brewton advised her audience to refrain from sexual activity while still teenagers, saying education should be their No. 1 priority.
“No boy has a college scholarship to give you,” she said. “If he doesn’t think you’re worth the wait, why would you think he’s worth the date?”
Following her speech at the middle school, Brewton spoke with a smaller group of Wood’s Mill Academy and Gainesville High students.
Her audience there included some who are already teen mothers, and she focused more on self-esteem and goal development.
Brewton said she thinks low self-esteem in young girls comes from comparing themselves to others.
“We compare what’s going on inside our house to the outside of other people’s houses,” she said.
Simmons attributes much of the change she’s seen to messages portrayed in pop culture.
“(Young girls) are the determining factors in their successes in life,” Simmons said.