Monday, October 12, 2009

The Issues Raised at the Tween Summit

We were hanging out at the Tween Summit this Saturday where Twixt was the only local sponsor. The day was all about tween girls: what tweens want, their dreams, and what they want to see from the government, parents, schools, and society. While the majority of girls in attendance were from the Washington area, we met families who had travelled from Florida, Washington state, and California!

Jess Weiner moderated the day's sessions - if you don't know Jess, you should - she is a well-known speaker on developing girls' self-esteem. She is one of the most high-energy, positive people I've ever met, and one of the few who could keep up with and emcee 300-plus girls. During our interview, Jess spoke about how she sees her role: as an advocate for moms and girls to each other. In her work, she has served as the voice between parents and girls articulating what girls want to/need to say but often times cannot. One of the favorite parts of the Summit for Jess was hearing "unencumbered answers from girls" on issues ranging from the environment to healthcare to media. On the topic of the First Tweens, she says that girls are "so excited to have tweens as role models in the White House" not just because their father is the President, but because they are so relatable. Malia and Sasha Obama live lives so much like other tweens - they attend school, play soccer, care for their pets, take vacations with their parents, cheer for the Jonas Brothers - just like other tweens. Jess also heard from girls at the Summit that they want to see "more real girls" in the media, and that they "want to be featured and acknowledged for their own efforts" (many of the girls attending the Summit are active in their communities and emerging leaders).

P.S. Check out this cool organization started by a group of teen volunteers at the Summit called One is Greater Than None - a girl-organized charity raising money to end child enslavement in Ghana and provide healthcare to families in the U.S. who cannot afford it - pretty big contributions from a group of 8 girls!)

Two other presenters from the day were Alex Penn and Leigh Rachel Faith from Champions Against Bullying, two amazing women who work tirelessly to shine a light on bullying in schools and encourage communities to develop anti-bullying policies on campus. Alex and Leigh spoke about the "changing complexion of bullying" in schools today, how we as a society are more immune to the pain caused by bullying than we ought to be, and the alarming rise in cyberbullying. This mother-daughter duo were especially impressed with the awareness of bullying amongst this crowd and the interest shown by both girls and parents in combatting it.

Jess, Leigh and Alex also addressed parents of the tween girls attending the Summit in separate, parent-focused sessions. The moms I spoke with were effusive in their praise of the presenters saying, "This is EXACTLY what we need in our schools right now," and "It's good to know that I am not the only mom dealing with these issues." organized the Summit, and they will be publishing the input from the girls' sessions shortly. Girls spent the morning and afternoon sharing their insights on all kinds of issues and contributed their comments on "the White House Wall". You can read our tween reporters' take on the Summit to get a girls' point of view here, and check out our next post on the Tween Summit Concert!

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1 comment:

kgg said...

Just wanted to say what an absolute pleasure it was meeting you & your girls. THANK YOU for the "shout out"!

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