Girls get taste of reality during seminar

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Reality bit hard Tuesday afternoon as a group of eighth-grade girls sat around a table, crunching out the numbers to see whether their chosen careers fit with their chosen lifestyles.

In most cases, they didn't. Girls had to downgrade from BMWs to less expensive cars, cut out vacations and spend less on clothing.

"This is a wake-up call," Steamboat Springs eighth-grader Catie Winter said. "When you are a kid, you don't consider all the things that adults have to pay for."

The exercise was part of the daylong Girls to Women/Women to Girls seminar, sponsored by the Women's Foundation of Colorado, organized by local volunteers and funded by local businesses.

More than 150 girls arrived at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort on Tuesday from Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Soroco and Walden middle schools and the Christian Heritage School and Lowell Whiteman Primary.

In its sixth year, the seminar focuses on providing direction to eighth-grade girls.

"Eighth grade is a critical time for girls," said Linda Hamlet, Trustee of the Women's Foundation of Colorado. "As they look forward to high school, the choices they make in education and in their social lives may well define their paths in life."

More than 75 women imparted their wisdom during the 32 workshops about careers and experiences. The workshops are as varied as surviving ninth grade, eating disorders, writing journal entries, learning self-defense techniques and discussing government.

During the lunch hour, the girls went through the Reality Bytes program; students pick a chosen career and then determine how much they want to spend on housing, transportation, savings, clothing, entertainment and other living expenses.

The girls added up the numbers and discovered life on their own can be expensive.

The exercise is designed to show girls that they have choices, said Diane Eilers, who led the girls through the process.

"They have to determine if a lifestyle is more important than a career," Eilers said. "The bottom line: They have the power in making choices and changes."

Susan de Wardt, the master of ceremonies for the day, said the lessons learned during the seminar were important ones that made an impact on her daughter.

"She learned things she just didn't get any other place," de Wardt said.

The lunch session also had a fashion show addressing school dress codes and what clothes were appropriate for class, school dances and job interviews. The fashion show was part of a Steamboat Springs High School senior project.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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