Mansfield ISD Magazine Spring 2019 | Page 22

Schools TEAM UP to Empower Adolescent Girls — Inspire girls to become positive women — The ladies that attended the conference wore matching shirts that said “flawless. MANSFIELD ISD | With the growing emphasis on social media likes and the changing standards of beauty, there’s a lot of pressure put on teenage girls in today’s society. Two Mansfield ISD counselors heard firsthand the various stories of low self-confidence, so they set out to let young women know their own worth. “The young ladies who come into my office are often talking about their low self-esteem, doing things in regards to them wanting attention from young men, and things of that nature,” said Candace Chism, seventh-grade counselor at T.A. Howard Middle School. “Or they’re coming in and just saying, ‘I don’t think I’m beautiful. I don’t think anybody likes me.’” Chism collaborated with Marcie Thomas, a coun- selor at neighboring Cross Timbers Intermediate School, to inspire girls to become positive women through a half-day conference. Approximately 100 teenage girls from both campuses attended the Level Up Girls Empowerment Conference on Jan. 10 at the Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts. There were four breakout sessions covering the topics of self-image, mental health, hygiene and ca- reer goals. The keynote speaker was former Miss Black USA, Ocielia Gibson. “I had an amazing time with the girls. What we did is talk to them about being pretty ‘L.I.T.,’” Gibson said 22 | Mansfield ISD TODAY after her presentation. “My philosophy and my recipe for being L.I.T. is loving yourself, ignoring distractions and turning towards your dreams and destiny.” The girls who attended said they were able to learn something new and open up about relevant topics to adults who have been through the same thing. “I think it’s a really good thing to have for kids my age and a little older because it’s something that we don’t really like to talk about a lot,” said Rebekkah Gorman, sixth-grader at Cross Timbers Intermediate School. “And I feel like if we have people who have come from that and can really explain it to us, that’d be good for us.” Thomas said she plans to continue the conference in the years to come. In the meantime, she hopes to see some immediate improvements in the attitude and behavior of the newly empowered teenagers. “Success to me would be me seeing these girls in the hallway exuding what they’ve been taught,” the counselor explained. “I’d love to see the girls affirm- ing each other after this and staying away from the unnecessary drama.” The conference was for girls in grades 6 through 8. The counselors said those who attended were chosen directly by them, referred by other staff members or showed great interest in the topics being discussed.