Recently I had the great fortune of facilitating two workshops at the Sister2Sister event held by the Toronto District School Board for 200 grade 8 girls from 8 public elementary schools. This conference originated in 2009 and has hosted over 1500 girls since then, helping them in their transition from girls to young women. Each year there is a different theme and the theme for 2016 was Right to Me! Right to Be! 

This event is an amazing and empowering one with a variety of workshops from which the girls involved can choose two which to attend; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. 

Among the workshops were:

  • THE POWER OF WORDS - Words will forever be your strongest weapon! Come learn and exercise your interest in spoken work poetry by writing, performing and sharing poetry about issues girls face in today's society.
  • REALITY OF HIGH SCHOOL - Have you ever wondered what high school would be like? Do you have questions about high school? Are you afraid of high school and want a second opinion? Do you want to know if the stereotypes of high school are true or not? 
  • GENDER JEOPARDY - An exciting game of Jeopardy, just like the game show but with a twist! Test and expand your knowledge on gender...What does the term 'gender' actually mean? What are the different ways to experience it? Are there rules for being a boy or a girl? Discover the answers to these questions and more.
  • RIGHT 2 ME! KNOW YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS - Learn about your legal rights at different ages with a lawyer from Justice for Children and Youth. We'll talk about things like healthcare, school, family, police and social media use. The best way to have your rights respected and enforced is to know what they are and where to go for help when you need it. 
  • MENTAL HEALTH & WELL-BEING - HOW TO KEEP HEALTHY - Everyone is talking about mental health and well-being. What it is? How does it affect me? Learn what mental health and well-being is and explore strategies and resources to help support it for yourself and your friends.
  • DREAM QUEENS - An arts-inspired workshop that aims to help you explore who you are while unravelling how this shapes your future. You will work alongside friends and facilitators to reflect on some important questions about igniting your journey towards your dreams. 
  • RIGHT TO KNOW! RIGHT TO NO! - An interactive workshop about illicit/prescription drugs. Through a variety of activities come understand the drug culture, dealing with peer pressure and the support and resources available.

and the workshop I was a co-facilitator to alongside a DivaCup representative:

  • MENSTRUAL MANAGEMENT - Periods don't have to be a nuisance. Learn about tools and products that will help you manage your menstruation easier and cheaper, including the Female Empowerment Bracelet and DivaCup.

Since the attendees chose to be at our workshop, the atmosphere was extremely open and positive and a safe place to discuss all things period related. We talked about menstruation in general and showed a short TedEd video about what exactly it is in case any of the students had missed that particular talk in health class. Then it was time to get more interactive by discussing the assorted products available for menstrual management including reusable pads, disposable pads and tampons and menstrual cups. Following this discourse all the girls made a Female Empowerment Bracelet while we talked in great detail about the changes that occur throughout the menstrual cycle.

Upon reflection, I must admit the entire conference was a tremendous success and the participants received valuable information that will empower and inform them moving forward into high school and beyond. It made me truly acknowledge that all young girls should be privy to similar events and it is my sincere hope to be able to be a small part of future ones.

To that end, if anybody reading this is a teacher or works in the education field or with girls age 10 - 17, please be aware that I am willing and available to deliver similar talks to your class or group anywhere in the GTA area. Simply comment on this post or send an email and I will respond quickly with particulars. 

Sharing information on what it means to be a young woman is a huge benefit to those just beginning their womanly journey and strengthens the bond of community and sisterhood and I honestly cannot imagine a better way to spend a few hours.