Teaching the importance of women in today’s society is the mission for Hardy Girls Healthy Women.
“The only thing that really defines feminism is if you believe in equal rights for all genders,” said a high school speaker.
It’s the 18th year Hardy Girls Healthy Women held their Girls Rock! Conference, an event planned by girls for girls.
“It’s planned entirely by our Girls Advisory Board and that’s a group of high schoolers that meet throughout the year and come up with these workshops, they’re the keynotes, they’re everything. So it’s just really fun to see the younger girls watching the high school girls share some knowledge,” said Kelli McCannell, Director of Hardy Girls Hardy Women.
“I personally even feel inspired teaching these young girls. It’s about overcoming and learning how powerful you are and it’s really great to hear it from a girl just a little bit older than you,” said Lily Webb, a senior at Messalonskee High School and President of the Girls’ Advisory Board.
By utilizing high school students as teachers, the program’s topics of discussion remain relevant and timely.
While the focus of the conference changes from year to year, the primary mission stays the same.
“Hardy Girls Healthy Women takes girls seriously and puts the power in their hands to challenge a society that ignores their brilliance,” said McCannell.
“We learn about all these powerful, strong women and learn about how we are them ourselves,” said Webb.
Workshops and discussions highlighted topics such as healthy arguing, navigating relationships, and the negative stereotypes of women portrayed in the media.
“These stereotypes represent a very limited, specific pool of women and they create both unhealthy depictions and ideas of girls,” said a high school speaker.
Empowering and celebrating young women is the end game. It was a day full of girl-powered activism that encouraged girls to use the voice they’re given because they deserve to be heard.
“And they don’t hear that very often. You think they would but they don’t. And in the media they don’t see positive images out there so it just starts with saying ‘you’re important and we want to listen to you,'” said McCannell.
BRANDON DOYEN, WABI TV5 NEWS, WATERVILLE.