Hudson Valley Parent

HVP January 2020

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24 Hudson Valley Parent n January 2020 and eighth-grade girls and some of their parents. The agenda centered on heightening the girls' self-aware- ness and personal connection to the world, with each session led by prominent women in the community and facilitated by AAUW members and college co-eds, all volunteers. Deborah Keesler of Pawling attended the conference with her seventh-grade daughter and a friend of her daughter's. It was the second time Keesler and her daughter par- ticipated in the event. "It's always nice to see a program for young women," said Keesler of the conference. "It's out of the ordinary and offers the opportunity for the girls to visit a college campus and meet women from all walks of life. It gives them a sense of (what's available) and is helping them build their place in the world. It all fits into a greater picture." By KAREN MASERJIAN SHAN S ocial media's ever-present eyes. Peer judgements. Stereotypes. By the time most girls in our society reach middle school, the pressures of prying eyes and unjust expectations has taken a toll on their self-esteem. Many are left with a diminished sense of their value and who they are, adversely affecting their ability to make and meet goals. In fact, seven-in-ten girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members, according to Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, commissioned by the Dove Self-Es- teem Fund. Lori Scolaro is co-chair of the Live Your Dream Girls' Conference, an annual event held by the Poughkeep- sie branch of the American Associ- ation of University Women and the Association of Women at Dutchess Community College (AAUW). "The conference provides a forum for girls of diverse background to nurture a vision for the future," said Scolaro, who works at the col- lege and is member of the AAUW. "Self-development is a big piece of how they can affect the world. A lot of times girls are fixed on beauty and clothes. The event is about help- ing them realize how much potential they have to affect the world just by being who they are." Held in November at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeep- sie, the daylong event included workshops and round-table discus- sions for about 75 sixth-, seventh- During the event's parent pro- gram, Keesler heard youth talk about their day-to-day lives, including their perspective on connecting with friends, family, communities and the world at-large via social media and their cellphones, around-the-clock. Keesler said that while her daugh- ter is self-directed and already has targeted a career involving aeronau- tics, she enjoyed connecting with the conference's leaders, mentors and other attendees. The event also re-affirmed her belief that that part of the world - her career choice - is accessible, reasonable and real. It also increased her awareness of STEM and other opportunities. As well, Keesler saw that her daughter's friend, blossomed as the day went on. "She came back full of energy," said Keesler. "She had the oppor- tunity to write in her journal and The pressure of perfection Support girls' goals with tools to build their self-esteem Middle-school girls participate in an empowerment exercise during the Live Your Dreams Girls' Conference in Poughkeepsie. Photo: Bonnie Auchinclos

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