Irving—The Future M.E. Girl Conference, which motivated and empowered young women, was hosted at the Senter Park Recreation Center on Saturday, March 12. The free event catered to girls in middle school and high school.
Kierra Walton, a recreational specialist at Northwest Park Recreation Center, led the conference.
“The Future M.E. Teen Conference is a girl empowerment conference we’re putting on during Women’s History Month,” Walton said. “We wanted to do something from the city of Irving where we’re able to reach girls in our community.”
Walton organized several different sections of the conference in order to empower young womenmentally, emotionally and physically. Representatives from Dallas College spoke about educational opportunities after high school. The girls also learned about the best practices for social media safety and even focused on physical health by participating in a zumba class.
Tarah Rupp, an area sales manager with UPS, spoke to the girls about professionalism. She advised them to remain professional both online and in person. She said the girls do not need to “look like Barbie everyday,” but should maintain a professional appearance.
“You always need to look sharp and be organized,” Rupp said.
Rupp learned about the event through her involvement in Emerging Leaders, a subset of the United Way. She wanted to share her experiences and knowledge with others.
“I am a manager in a male-dominated industry, transportation and logistics,” Rupp said. “[I’m also] a mother to a 15 year old daughter. [I want to] make sure she goes to school and is afforded all the opportunities any of her male counterparts would be.”
Rupp said being the smartest person in the room is not as important as continuously striving to improve and learn more
“I think the way was paved for us, so I want to continue to pave that way as the world changes,” Rupp said. “[I want to] make sure they know how strong they are, how important they are and that nobody’s going to make them feel like they’re less than or they can’t do things.”
The girls focused on self-confidence during the (You)nique activity with Tiara Shelton. Shelton began her session by asking the girls to introduce themselves and name one thing they love about themselves.
A 13 year old girl volunteered to go first. After introducing herself as Tatiana Flores, she enthusiastically announced, “I love me!”
Flores learned about the conference from her cousin, who was working at the event. She decided to attend because she likes trying new things. She said Rupp and Shelton’s sessions were her favorite parts of the event.
“[Rupp’s speech] gave me power to be a leader,” Flores said. “I’m always a leader. I’m always the head of everything, because I’m not afraid to be talking. Then Tiara made me more confident in speaking and telling other people how to do stuff, or how to be confident, how to be beautiful and feel beautiful.”
After everyone introduced themselves, Shelton pointed out pieces of paper taped around the room. She gave each of the girls ear plugs and told them to walk around the room, reading the affirmations printed on the paper aloud. She gave them ear plugs because she wanted them to focus on themselves and hear themselves speaking without being distracted by others.
Flores said one of the affirmations encouraged the reader to love herself regardless of her skin color. She said she knows people who are not proud of their skin color, and she wants to change that mindset.
“That’s something you should be proud of because that’s your culture, that’s your race,” Flores said. “You were born like that.”
After the girls finished the exercise, Shelton told them each to take home an affirmation that stood out to them. Flores took one that said, ‘You are an asset to your community. You have leadership qualities. You make our people and our ancestors proud.’
“It’s important the girls have access to these types of resources in our community,” Walton said. “We want them to continue to grow and know what they have here. These are the girls in our neighborhoods we see everyday. We want them to be informed, so they can be the best versions of themselves.”
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