Girls Unlimited conference planned in Redmond Sept. 25

The Girls Unlimited conference, a program to empower and inspire teen girls in Redmond, will take place from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Redmond Senior Center, 8703 160th Ave. NE.

Monique Ming Laven of KIRO TV will be among presenters at the Girls Unlimited conference

The Girls Unlimited conference, a program to empower and inspire teen girls in Redmond, will take place from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Redmond Senior Center, 8703 160th Ave. NE.

A $10 attendance fee includes dinner and snacks. The program is for girls ages 12-18 and parents are encouraged to attend with their daughters.

Presenters will include Monique Ming Laven, reporter and weekend news anchor for KIRO TV, Captain Christine Walsh, a test pilot for Boeing, Redmond teen author Maya Ganesan, Sheri Gazitt from the Women’s Sports Foundation and director of Seattle GoGirlGo!, local therapist Dr. Laura Doerflinger and others.

Space at the conference is limited. To reserve a spot, visit www.redmond.gov/econnect and follow the directions to register, using course number 33975.

This conference was planned “because there was a need for teen girls to have a voice in Redmond,” explained Ken Wong, teen programs and 50-plus administrator for City of Redmond Parks and Recreation.

“At the (Old Fire House) teen center and in our after-school junior high programs, we were not seeing our girls stepping up and taking the lead in programming or activities,” said Wong. “We wanted women who have seen and dealt with these issues and have conquered them, to share their stories.”

We asked Wong and other adults from Redmond Parks and Recreation why girls may sometimes shy away from speaking their minds or taking initiative.

Is it because they lack confidence, don’t want to look “uncool” or too assertive around their male peers? How much does the desire to appear popular or to fit in with the “in” crowd affect their willingness to express themselves and reveal their intelligence?

“I am not sure there is just one answer to those questions because I have seen girls be very sure about their opinion and confident about what they are doing — and then turn around and be passive,” Wong replied. “Sometimes it is because they see other people around and do not want to show off or have too strong of an opinion. I think this conference allows women/girls to be together and hear these issues as one and share comments, feelings and ideas.”

Another Redmond Parks and Recreation staff member, Tami Cobb, mentioned, “I think girls/women are more likely to hang back and see if someone else steps up first — not wanting to get into a power struggle.”

Their attitude is also influenced by subtle or not-so-subtle cues from adults around them, whether it’s parents, grandparents, teachers or coaches, said Cobb.

Rana Shmait, teen programs coordinator at the Old Fire House Teen Center noted, “Often times it’s a simple case of not being presented with an opportunity. Our goal is to provide leadership opportunities and support girls in living up to their potential. The Old Fire House Teen Center held a mini girls’ conference last fall and our most popular and well-attended program was a Math and Science panel with women in careers in bioengineering, computer science and industrial engineering. The more exposure to dynamic, professional and intelligent women, the easier it becomes for young women and girls to feel confident and proud of their skills and more willing to acknowledge their smarts to peers and family.”

For more information about the Girls Unlimited conference, e-mail Ken Wong at kwong@redmond.gov or Rana Shmait at rshmait@redmond.gov or call (425) 556-2320.

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