The City of Bloomington Safe and Civil City Program is offering a one-day Young Women’s Leadership Summit for middle and high school aged girls 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at city hall.
The focus of the summit is “Celebrating Black Girl Magic,” featuring three workshops that will include conversations on body image and society, imposter syndrome, belongingness for middle and high school aged girland mental health, according to the City of Bloomington website.
Speakers will include Emcee Keyandra Wigfall, program manager for the Office of Minority Health at the Indiana State Department of Health in Indianapolis, and workshop leaders will include Ellise Smith, a Ph.D. student in urban education studies; Nichelle Whitney, senior assistant director at the IU Office of Admissions and Virginia Githiri, a professor in the Department of Applied Health Science at the IU School of Public Health.
“This work is important because confidence and community lead to innovation and impact,” Whitney said in an email. “When we are part of the solutions that change the world, then we feel empowered to pass these gifts on to generations after us. This is how we shift culture.”
Whitney will speak about how to identify areas where young girls lack confidence, factors that influence how women perceive themselves and ways girls can support other girls.
The summit is dedicated to empowering young women, along with offering resources to young women of color, according to the City of Bloomington website. Although directed toward Black and Latina girls, girls of any ethnicity are invited to attend.
Smith said she typically studies body image and society in an 18-and-older age group but is looking forward to the challenge of having these conversations with young girls who have not had the same experiences that college-aged women have had.
“How can we have these same conversations with girls before they get to the age of 18?” Smith asked. “Young girls still experience negative comments on body image from family, friends and on social media. These external voices that have been internalized by us as teens can be caught earlier.”
She said she hopes to remind young girls that they are “magical.”
“They are worthy, and nothing in the world should stop them from being validated, especially body size,” Smith said. “They don’t need to look like the next little girl to know that they are beautiful."