Y.A.S.S. Teen Empowerment Program


Heads up...I'm going to give you a lot of details here, so it will be a little long. Thank you for reading, and for your interest in lending your time to teen girls!

A little about me: (since I was totally overwhelmed with that mic in front of my face at the event...) I am a wellness coach that specializes in fitness and nutrition coaching for women, and I have had my practice, FemmePower Fitness, in Austin for 10 years. Last January, I opened TRAVA, a fitness and personal training studio that provides a welcoming space for women to move their bodies, learn about health and wellness, and connect with other individuals who are working to better their lives. I live in South Austin with my three daughters, husband, and two lady-dogs. 

Enter the project...

It all started when my oldest daughter started getting boobs. (Do not tell her I said that. She will die.) When she started getting boobs, I thought, "Ok, now is the time that I introduce all of the topics that pertain to teen and then womanhood." And I got stuck. My daughter and I have a great relationship, but I was petrified of saying the wrong things to her, and scarring her for life. Whether or not this would actually happen didn't enter the picture. Only my dread of a statement I made about her body looping in her head for the rest of her life in a negative way. And this is, literally, what I do all day. And for the past 10+ years. And if I was over-thinking my strategies of preparing my kid for what was to come...what were other parents doing? 
So I decided to speak candidly with my daughter about it. I told her that I was worried about saying the wrong thing, because I have dealt with various body-focused commentary replaying in my head for most of my life. While I have done hard work to silence the bits that don't serve me...I didn't want her to have to go through the same process if I could avoid it. 

That conversation changed our relationship for the better. 

And after more talks with her, and with her peers, I realized a few key points: (some of these you'll already know...)
* Teen girls aren't living in some alternate technological universe. Even though they're the natives and we're the immigrants...they crave in-person connection just as much as their adult counterparts. Read: they're still normal kids. 

* Teen girls want strong female role models that they can know in real life. Teen girls have access to youtubers that preach positive body- and self-talk, and there are more and more messages reaching them about love and acceptance of their physical selves. But they also want human beings that they can know and interact with that will provide positive influences for their lives. 

* Teen girls are super smart and self-aware. They know that photographs are altered, and that people only post flattering images of themselves. They know the difference between real life and digital fantasy land. But they have to live in both. And they'd really like their adults to understand that. 

*Teen girls want the truth, and know when you know your shit and when you don't. They value expert opinions and advice, and are more prone to take information in when they feel like they're a part of the learning process, not just being told what to do. 

*Teen girls want to learn. They want to know about their bodies, what's ahead for them, and how to take care of themselves. Anecdotal and scientific evidence are craved, and these girls are laying the foundation for how they'll view, love, and maintain themselves forever. Exciting (and terrifying), right? 

So while this series will focus most specifically on body image and self-care, more broadly (and perhaps more deeply) it will touch on cultural influence, both current and historical, and our relationships with our female caregivers and role models.

That's where you come in...

I'm looking for women who can be mentors to these girls through a series of events that will take place late Spring through early Fall. The goal is to empower young women by offering real life stories, factual and scientific information, and an elder perspective that they can take with them as they build their relationships with their bodies. The girls will make topic selections, and the experts will be organized to help give the girls perspective and clarity, as well as food for thought. 

Women from all walks of life can lend experience from so many different angles to help these young women avoid (or at least minimize) the body image issues that we all have dealt with through our lives. It also provides us an opportunity to bridge the gap between generations, and give the young people access to strong, passionate role models that will inspire them.

So let's talk about what we'll be doing...

First, the ACTION: The events will include movement opportunities from local and National experts, specializing in different types of activities from yoga to dance to tai chi to ballet to traditional fitness and will give the girls opportunities to move their bodies and see what's available and what resonates with them. 

We'll also be focusing each event on a particular cause or topic, and using our discussion/interaction time to make useful art: such as making postcards to send to our Congressional leaders, making animals to take to children at Dell, and making art to send in care packages to our deployed troops. Busy hands can make conversations not so awkward, and less "lecture-like". And they'll come out of it with a finished project or two that will benefit others. Win-win!

Next, the SUPPORT: I find myself saying "now more than ever" so much lately...but NOW MORE THAN EVER do we need to support each other. Our endeavors, our beliefs, our hearts, our minds, our boundaries, our communities, our dreams. We'll create a safe space where young girls can come together, free of stereotyping, bullying, and judgement, and be themselves. They can feel what it's like to engage with other girls and their elders in a satisfying way while being gently guided in self-care topics that will impact them for a lifetime.

And finally, the SISTERHOOD: Developing long-lasting relationships with each other and with their elder counterparts is an important piece of the puzzle. Knowing that there are people who love and value you is key to the human experience, and while our families provide that in different ways and capacities, we know how valuable having non-familial sisters is. Through technologiocal and in-person connection we'll be able to bridge the gap between generations, learn from each other, and create relationships that can last a lifetime. It's like the Girl Scouts of self-care. ;)

Thank you again for reading through my novella. 

Now if you're down, please click here and fill out this questionnaire. I will use this information to learn more about you, pair you with other mentors, and to schedule your participation dates.

You'll notice that there's a poll in there that will give options for a mentor-only event that will get us together so that we can mingle and collaborate. Be sure to get back to me as quickly as you can so we can get that on the schedule. 

Thanks again for your willingness to participate. I look forward to creating something magical with you!