Empowering girls, one day at a time
Capitol Heights E.S. holds first-ever Girls Empowerment Day
Pink balloons, multi-colored paper mache flowers, hanging butterfly mobiles and a room full of loud screams and cheers echoing throughout the cafeteria set the mood for Capitol Heights Elementary School’s first-ever Girls Empowerment Day on April 29.
“Girls Empowerment Day is a day we want to inspire and engage our young girls and to know that they can be and do anything they want in this life,” said Nina Lattimore, the school’s principal. “We decided to have this event based upon [the] Men Make a Difference Day [program],
which is sponsored by our county. We want to also give our girls a chance to meet and take part in activities that reflect careers that they can enjoy in their future.”
The event kicked off with an empowerment seminar featuring Miss Maryland Pre-Teen 2015, Brooke Naidu, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) Area 1 Associate Superintendent Denise Greene and PGCPS spokeswoman Sherrie Johnson, who spoke in the afternoon session.
Johnson spoke to the young girls about following their passion and taking advantage of good opportunities because they are the future. Johnson said it’s important for her, as a spokeswoman, to not only offer words of encouragement and advice, but also set a good example for them.
“It’s important to empower young girls to encourage them to follow their dreams. They need to believe in themselves and know that they can do anything they put their mind to,” Johnson said in an email. “In life, you may hear a number of no answers but you have to persevere until you hear a yes answer. These young girls are wise beyond their years.”
Naidu, 13, spoke about confidence and how young girls should stay true to themselves. While reciting her speech called “Enough,” for which Naidu placed 2nd runner-up in the national spokesmodel com- petition and won first place at state level, Naidu said about 71 percent of young girls today are faced with societal pressures and suffering from eating disorders, anxiety and depression.
Naidu stressed the importance of helping and inspiring girls to look deep inside themselves and find their inner voice.
“Why is it that every girl in our society seems to suffer from low self-esteem at some point during her life, feeling that she does not measure up, that she’s not pretty enough, smart enough, good enough or just plain enough,” said Naidu as she recited her speech with great passion. “Many believe girls today have an increasingly difficult time with developing and maintaining high self-esteem due to numerous factors such as media and their peers. … We need to teach girls, at a very young age preferably before school starts, to find their inner voice, the one that will guide them on a path to success and comfortability. When we teach a young girl to have a relationship with herself, it will allow her to be confident and secure. It will teach her to trust her inner voice.”
Naidu — who attends Glenelg Country School in Ellicott City — said empowering young girls is not only an amazing feeling, but also an obligation she sees fit as a role model.
“To think that all of these young girls are going to be sitting in here, looking up to me as a role model makes me feel so great about myself,” Naidu said in an interview. “It makes me feel like I have reached out on a relatable and approachable level to these young girls and that’s how I want to be. … When people need me, I want to be there for them and through this, I will be able to do that and I’m very, very excited.”
After the seminar, students were escorted to different rooms where they participated in hands-on activities including a dessert-making workshop, designing vision boards, writing poems, using ordinary materials to make scientific designs and preparing plant beds to put in the school’s garden.
Capitol Heights student Amber Ware, 11, led the Bake Like a Diva workshop, which is named after her baking show she created and hosts on YouTube. Ware spoke to her peers about baking with style and making delicious desserts that everyone can enjoy.
“I wanted to do it because I wanted to show people that they could bake stuff and they could enjoy themselves with baking and just express themselves,” Ware said. “If I help young girls, it’s helping me because I’m making a difference in their lives. I’m helping them go to a positive route, not a negative route. I’m just helping them become better.”
When it comes to helping young girls express themselves, the “Our Words Have Power” workshop was designed to paint a positive picture of one’s future using images and words cut out from magazines.
Third-grade student Rayna Sermon, 8, created an eclectic vision board filled with images of her favorite activities like dancing, singing, cooking, creating art, solving math problems and reading books. Sermon said participating in the workshop helped her realize there’s more to empowerment than meets the eye.
“It’s inspiring to have different people on a vision board, to be a fun person and to have an experience,” said Sermon. “I think that [Girls Empowerment Day] is a day that all girls should have and experience doing because it’s like a day that girls just like to have fun.”
With Mother’s Day right around the corner, Lattimore said it couldn’t have been a more fitting time to have a day dedicated to recognizing and empowering a new generation of young women.
“The girls always asked about something for them and we felt that our girls needed to be empowered too. So we thought around Mother’s Day time, spring would be perfect for this event. This is our first one and we’re going to keep doing it,” said Lattimore.
Capitol Heights Elementary student Amber Ware, top right, smiles as she watches her peers enjoy her “Bake Like a Diva” workshop. Ware, 11, is the creator and host of her own show on YouTube.
Students prepare plant beds with top soil to place in the school’s front garden.
Capitol Heights Elementary Principal Nina Lattimore, far right, pulls out her phone to snap a photo as she observes students participating in the “Our Words Have Power” workshop. Students had the choice of writing a poem or making a vision board.
Miss Maryland Pre-Teen 2015 Brooke Naidu, 13, stands onstage as she speaks to young girls at Capitol Heights Elementary School during the school’s first-ever Girls Empowerment Day on April 29 in Capitol Heights. Naidu, who attends Glenelg Country...