Jennifer Beeson Naples Daily News
Published 8:21 PM EDT Oct 4, 2018
“You are enough.”
That was the message for almost 150 teenage girls who attended the second annual L.E.A.D Like a Girl symposium at Florida SouthWestern State College on Thursday morning.
The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and the Hispanic American Doctors’ Association of SWFL hosted the event, which brings together teenage girls to learn from one another and from women who are leaders in Lee County.
L.E.A.D Like a Girl SWFL, which stands for leadership, education, advocacy and development, began in 2017 by Claribel Bocanegra, who is also the founder of the Hispanic American Doctors’ Association of Southwest Florida.
“It’s such a powerful thing for a girl to hear that she is enough, that she is beautiful, you can do it, you can pursue your passions,” Bocanegra said. “Just those affirmations are so important for a young girl to hear, especially at this age.”
Women’s empowerment and advocacy are becoming more prevalent with movements such as #TimesUp, #MeToo and #WhyIDidntReport.
More: Women’s March in Naples to back #MeToo movement, push voters to polls
More: Why victims of sexual violence are often silent — and where they can get help
A set of panelists spoke to the young audience. The speakers included: Dr. April Brown, a therapist in Lee County; Marta Ramos, a professor of language and literature at Florida Gulf Coast University; Nadege Borgat, executive director of The New Beginnings of SWFL; and Denise Gergley, senior vice president of merchandising at Chico’s FAS.
“Look at your neighbor and say you are enough,” Borgart said to the audience of girls wearing crown tiaras. “Look at your neighbor and say, ‘I am a queen.’ ”
Borgat shared her story of being a homeless immigrant, teen mom and high school dropout who frequently got into fistfights before being adopted at age 17.
She said she felt lost and needed to find herself.
“If you don’t know who you are, then people are going to come in and decide for you,” she said. “You need to take the pen … and find out who you are.”
Bogart is now a married mother of three and a professor with a bachelor’s degree from Florida Gulf Coast University and a master’s degree from Nova Southeastern University.
“I think programs like this are important because it’s rare for young women to empower one another,” Borgat said. “I want the conversation to continue and for them to have a safe space to have an open dialogue.”
The L.E.A.D Like a Girl symposium was created to encourage teenage girls to spread female empowerment at their schools by creating clubs and groups for students to have spaces to talk about topics that aren’t always easy to discuss.
“To have an impact in their schools and giving them the opportunity to be leaders in their schools and be advocates not only for themselves but also for their classmates, it’s a powerful thing,” Bocanegra said.
Politics, equality, self-worth and cyberbullying were some of the topics discussed at the event Thursday.
More: Women on wheels: Wind Sisters motorcycle riders talk empowerment and confidence
“We had girls today that express how they can’t talk to their parents and they don’t feel comfortable reaching out to their counselors in fear that they will get in trouble,” Bocanegra said. “So this gives them a safe space to reach out.”
Bocanegra said she hopes the organization one day will evolve to have several mentors for young girls to serve as life lines and help lead them and be advocates for them.
At the end of the event, it was announced that one teenage girl will be awarded the Cyan Bright Light Scholarship of $1,500.
The scholarship recently was created in memory of Cyan E. Galarza, who died in a car accident earlier this year. Wednesday would have been Galarza’s 21st birthday.
L.E.A.D Like a Girl plans to host a follow-up session at the end of the school year.
- Kevin Lee fails to make weight, but fight will still be held
- The Latest: Louisville water girl recalls Ali's bouts
- NFL Hosts Plays For Life During Super Bowl Week
- She's 6 years old and just won a national wrestling tournament ... after beating all the boys
- Seong, Carta advance to US Women's Amateur semifinals
- Week in Wrestling: Bobby Roode promises WWE title run; Kurt Angle talks fatherhood
FSW event in Lee encourages teen girls to express, empower themselves have 739 words, post on eu.naplesnews.com at April 10, 2018. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.