Cheer Her On Conference
Our vision for Canada is… a country where all women will have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. We want to encourage young women to be courageous and confident in themselves so that they will not shy away from opportunities and will support one another in both success and in failure.
We planned a “Cheer Her On” Conference and invited young women, in grades 8 through 12, from all across the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. The day started with a panel discussion featuring a diverse and powerful group of female leaders. They shared their stories of success and failure and offered words of advice to their 16-year old selves. Following lunch, the participants broke out into four different workshops lead by 4 female facilitators with expertise in a variety of fields. In these workshops the students learned about Authentic Leadership, Self-Branding, Visioning and Planning to Be Your Future Self and the Importance of Self-Care. We finished the day with “Networking and Nibbles” and encouraged participants to practice their networking skills and to make connections with others so that we can continue to build partners as we work towards a better tomorrow.
The Cheer Her On group is made up of 12 students who attend weekly meetings where we discuss issues impacting women; power and privilege, consent, access to education, gender-based violence, etcetera. The group wanted to run a conference that would focus on supporting and encouraging a community of kindness and positivity while building leadership capacity among young women in our school communities. The students came up with the plan for the day, arranged for all of our panelists and workshop facilitators,and hosted our guests on the day of the conference. They ensured that everything ran smoothly and that our participants were comfortable so that they could be fully engaged in the learning and the conversation.In order to remain connected, the Cheer Her On group created an Instagram account (@CCICheerHerOn) for others to follow so that we can continue to share our ideas and our resources while learning from others. We plan to feature a “Girl of the Month” and just launched our first interview with a graduating student who has accomplished a great deal despite many challenges. We will continue with this, in the coming months, and plan to feature a diverse groups of SHEroes from within our school community.
As a next step, we are going to create a mentorship network and guest speaker series that we hope to be up and running in the coming school year. We want to host powerful female guest speakers who will speak about their careers and their journey and invite students within our school to participate.
Reflection & Celebration
The conference was a bigger success than we had imagined. Every panelist and workshop facilitator jumped at the chance to be a part of the event and every participant left feeling more confident, encouraged and ready to take on big challenges. We had incredibly positive feedback from everyone and have already had offers of financial support so that we can host the event again next year.
We were thrilled to hear this since one of the biggest challenges we faced was finding the money to support the event. Funding was made possible through a KPR Connects Grant and an LSF Action Project Grant. We are so grateful to have had their support to make this dream a reality.
Another challenge was getting all of our participants from around the Board to our school for the event. It took a lot of logistical planning due to distance and different start and end times and it meant we ran a shorter conference than we would have liked. We managed, but for next year, we would like to offer longer workshops for deeper learning, extending the event from 4 hours to 6 hours.
We will explore the potential partnerships we made through this conference in order to procure funding to run it again next year. We will also nurture the relationships and connections we made in order to increase our numbers and the strength of our voices.