By Seo Jin LEE, intern
On June 14, high school girls gathered on the grounds of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church for Simply Strong, a workshop on female empowerment. Crescenta Valley High School freshman and Juliette Scout Maylin Austin, 13, hosted the event as part of her Girl Scout Silver Award project, the highest level of distinction a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. The purpose of the award is to encourage girls to give back to the community.
“I came to the workshop because I wanted to feel empowered,” Melanie Burckes, 13, a rising freshman and seminar participant, said. “I’ve been feeling insecure lately, and wanted something to boost me up.”
The first part of the program was dedicated to learning methods of defense against assault as well as general awareness of personal safety at events, such as parties. Jodi Harrison-Lee, a fifth-degree black belt and teacher at The Martial Way, led discussions and activities on how to lead a healthy life both physically and emotionally. Harrison-Lee explained to the students that a coming together of the mind, body and spirit leads to true confidence.
Barbara Nielsen, a certified public accountant and Girl Scout mom, led a seminar on how to wisely manage finances and discussed values when it comes to money. Nielsen and the students examined the inherent disparity between male and female chief executive officers (CEO) in the workforce, but also considered lucrative professions that many females currently hold. Nielsen imparted practical knowledge to the girls, such as the difference between debit and credit cards as well as the importance of college majors and careers. In the latter part of the finance workshop, participants split up into two groups and examined case studies that involved making an informed financial decision.
In the final portion of the workshop, Ronda Althen, a makeup artist for “The Ellen Show,” shared with the girls healthy and modest methods of makeup application. The students discussed different types of products and various ways of applying makeup. Althen cautioned the girls against some dangers of makeup, such as sharing products amongst friends, and implored them to invest in sunscreen, a necessity especially in the hot summer sun.
Students walked away from the workshop with newly acquired knowledge for the present and future. Speakers geared their topics toward those that could help these adolescents to develop into emotionally and physically healthy young adults.
“I learned that natural beauty doesn’t mean you have to cover yourself up,” Burckes said. “I’m going to tell my friends not to waste their money and to save up for college.”
Austin decided on the three topics of the seminar based on her personal experiences and her perspective on what female adolescents should know at their ages.
“I’ve seen how my mom and other family members and friends have struggled with money, and want to give practical advice to girls my age,” Austin said.
Feeling empowered and inspired to change the community, Maylin Austin and the girls who participated in the workshop hope to spread awareness of these issues to family and friends and to act on what they have learned to make informed decisions in the future.