Empowering, inspiring and molding young minds

Renae Peterson instructs her Beauty from the Inside Out class of girls ages 11 to 17 on the best way to present yourself at first glance - posture, on September 25, 2017 at Guardian Security Solutions in Lethbridge.

Renae Peterson instructs her Beauty from the Inside Out class of girls ages 11 to 17 on the best way to present yourself at first glance – posture, on Sept. 25 at Guardian Security Solutions in Lethbridge.

Strong individuals in the community are taking great strides in empowering the young girls of tomorrow.

Laura Keffer-Wilkes poses in front of her periodic table at the University of Lethbridge Environmental Science building on September 26, 2017.

Laura Keffer-Wilkes poses in front of her periodic table at the University of Lethbridge Environmental Science building on Sept. 26, 2017.

Lethbridge has seen an uptake in recent years of different programs tailored to the youth of tomorrow more specifically young women. With different groups like Girls Rock Camp, Beauty from the Inside Out and Codergirls, girls can be empowered through many different channels.

While women are taking a stand all over the world, for women’s reproductive, civil and workers’ rights women in Lethbridge are taking their own stance.
Laura Keffer-Wilkes a program coordinator at the University of Lethbridge says that empowering young girls is about speaking to them about careers in male dominated fields, like science.

“Encourage them just to go into it I think that’s the biggest thing, talking about it,” says Keffer-Wilkes. “I don’t think they realize that it’s something that they can do. Video games are not just for boys, they’re for girls too. It’s just about being open to girls in computer science and tech.”

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There’s been a rise throughout the world as of late of different groups rallying together for the female cause, back in January of 2017 the Women’s March took place in Washington D.C, rallying women from all over the world to protest for women’s rights and lay their “hats” at the steps of newly elected President Donald Trump’s famed Trump Hotel.

The march began there and continued all over the world, even setting roots here in Lethbridge bringing a turnout of hundreds says Global News, with women and men from all over contributing their time and effort to the cause.

The gathering, dubbed “Women’s March on Washington” is one of over 600 that took place simultaneously around the world and was used a way to fight for the rights of not just women, but many different minorities.

Most recently Lethbridge came together in August to celebrate Flip Fest, a music festival within the city supporting female artists, musicians and curators from all over Southern Alberta and farther.
The festival held a no-grounds for discrimination and safe space priority. Which was put in place to make sure women and especially young girls attending the festival would feel safe and welcome.

Where there’s people on the educational side of things like Laure Keffer-Wilkes and Flip Fest presenters Mandy Fox and Jessy Blackwater the other side of the spectrum sees companies and smaller organizations creating programs like Beauty from the Inside Out to empower young girls and instill confidence in them that might have been dormant before.

The National Report on Self Esteem, the National Association for Self Esteem and the Dove Self Esteem Project report that 98 per cent of girls feel there is an immense pressure from external sources to look a certain way. 92 per cent of teen girls would like to change something about the way they look, with body weight ranking the highest, and 90 per cent of eating disorders are found in girls.

These stats are a particular reason why something like Beauty from the Inside Out, created by Renae Peterson over 10 years ago are so important and influential.

Peterson’s website and her own accounts consistently promote bringing young girls up as strong powerful women, not like “Kardashians,” more like “queens of their own hearts.”

“We’ve lost the art of what it means to be a strong, confident woman,” says Peterson. “I think it (the program) plants seeds that last a lifetime, it empowers them and has skill sets to be able to navigate everything that they’re bombarded with, so the impact (of empowerment) is generational, I really believe that.”

Beauty from the Inside out began its fall session on Sept. 25 and Codergirls begins its after-school program on Sept. 29. For more information, visit both organizations at their respective websites – beautyinside.life uleth.ca/destination-exploration

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