2005 Girls To Women Conference Steering Committee: Success of Girls to Women

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The members of the Steering Committee for the eighth annual Girls To Women conference would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those who contributed their time and energy to make the day a tremendous success. More than a hundred women from our region volunteered their time, inspiration and expertise to this effort and provided an incredibly valuable learning experience for the 104 eighth-grade girls attending the event at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Hotel on April 12th, 2005. Our community has also graciously matched dollar for dollar the funding received from the Women's Foundation of Colorado.

Girls are resilient, resourceful and imaginative. They have strengths and perspectives to become healthy adults and leaders in their communities. However, experience and research tells us that as young girls make this transition, many begin to question their competence and their confidence. "Girls to Women, Women to Girls" is a collaborative response by the Women's Foundation of Colorado and the "New Frontiers" initiative in Northwest Colorado to fill a programming gap for Colorado's rural girls.

Despite some misconceptions about the event that arose in response to the original newspaper coverage, attendees can attest to the fact that this experience provided the young women with an inspiring keynote address and 22 interactive workshops related to a broad range of career opportunities and serious topics. Every year all participants (girls and women) are asked to complete an evaluation form, and their feedback is used to refine and improve the conference content and logistics for the next year. This year's workshop offerings and schedule structure were based on input received and experience gained during the previous seven years. We will continue to welcome and carefully consider suggestions for improvements, including those offered by the Steamboat Today Editorial Board on Wednesday.

Rather than continuing a debate about gender assumptions associated with various clothing, accessories, colors, activities and professions, we encourage readers to consider that gender stereotypes are only problematic when people allow them to limit their vision for their own future, or use them to unfairly judge other people's potential. We offer the following thoughts, from a poem by Nancy R. Smith:

n For every girl who is tired of acting weak when she is strong, there is a boy tired of appearing strong when he feels vulnerable.

n For every boy who is burdened with the constant expectation of knowing everything, there is a girl tired of people not trusting her intelligence.

n For every girl who is tired of being called over-sensitive, there is a boy who fears to be gentle, to weep.

n For every boy for whom competition is the only way to prove his masculinity, there is a girl who is called unfeminine when she competes.

n For every girl who throws out her E-Z-Bake oven, there is a boy who wishes to find one.

n For every boy struggling not to let advertising dictate his desires, there is a girl facing the ad industry's attacks on her self-esteem.

n For every girl who takes a step toward her liberation, there is a boy who finds the way to freedom a little easier.

If anyone has questions about this event, or would like to volunteer to participate in next year's Girls To Women conference, call 879-6188. To learn more about New Frontiers for Women and Girls, call 879-0736 or visit the "Nonprofit Partners" -- "Youth" Web site link at www.yvcf.org

2005 Girls To Women Conference Steering Committee: Linda Hamlet, Sandra Visnack, Elizabeth Speare, Diana Eilers, Lane Malone, Paula Begay, Christy Woodland

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