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Annual conference empowers Marlin girls

Communities in Schools of the Heart of Texas in partnership with the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children coordinated the 7th Annual Empowering Girls Conference “Girls Can,” on Friday June 17.

The annual conference hosted by both Deborah Raphael, Site Coordinator on the high school campus, and Aleigh Ascherl, Primary Prevention Coordinator of the two programs, was held at Marlin High School and had an attendance of 31 girls ranging from seventh to 12th grade and included two MHS 2019 graduates. 

Girls participated in rotating sessions that covered topics that many are experiencing now, have experienced in the past, or might experience in the future as they continue to grow. Other features of the conference were a panel discussion and a presentation by guest speaker Andrea Barefield, Mayor Pro Tem, District 1 Waco and Executive Director at Texas Brazos Trail.

After registration and lunch, Paula Kluck Family Support Specialist for Twin City Mission Youth and Family Services spoke on managing stress. Kluck pointed out ways to identify stress and provided possible options for dealing with stress in a healthy way.

Sonia Shah, CYD Case Manager for Communities in Schools, spoke on “What They Don’t Want You to Know.” Shah discussed Beyonce, Michelle Obama, Cardi B, and Maya Angelou and what they had to learn to become confident and influential. She also shared with the girls in her session what it takes to get past the hurdles that try to keep us down. 

Emily Millican, Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children, presented as her topic, “We Can Do It.” Millican introduced her character Rosie the riveter and the important things she stands for.

 Rosondra Hartsfield, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, presented “Character & Setting Goals.” In the session facilitated by Hartsfield, the girls learned information concerning the importance of communication and trust in relationships, and learned the choices we make all hove consequences.

In addition to the 35-minute breakout sessions, the girls participated in a panel discussion where they were able to ask questions that were answered by the various panel members. Serving on the panel were Waco Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Barefield, Dr. Soo Battle-Pediatrician, Medical Advisor Child Sexual Abuse Examiner, and Founder of Camp Careful, Connie Nichols-Professor of Law, Baylor University, Rosondra Hartsfield, and Sonia Shah. 

The panel members fielded and answered several questions from conference participants. Some of the many questions asked included: What made you go into your current field/profession? As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?   What is the biggest challenge for girls/women at the moment? and What are some groups/social media/ books/ music that support women and motivate you?

Guest Speaker Barefield began her presentation by sharing a little about herself and her background, education and daily activities as Executive Director of the Texas Brazos Trail Region. Barefield is no stranger to working with youth/young adults as she works with the Waco Youth Council coaching them in civic leadership training and helping them cultivate special projects such as recycling and educating other young people. In her presentation, Barefield reminded those present that “it doesn’t matter what anybody else say about you, but what you say about you that matters. Trust yourself to write your own story. I was told what I can’t do but found a way to write what was in my soul to do! I counteracted against negativity which motivated me to do more. She noted that your sacrifices won’t go unnoticed, your footprints will be felt and seen so claim your right to write your story.”

This year, LaRachel Taylor was awarded the Communities in Schools of the Heart of Texas $500 scholarship.  She will be attending Prairie View A&M University in the fall and will major in nursing. 

“I am so proud of LaRachel accomplishments and it was important to me to have the other girls see her in her cap and gown, and receiving that  scholarship, and hopefully think “I Can Do That,” Raphael said.

LaRachel has been an attendee at these annual Empowering Girls conferences for several years and as a graduate, she didn’t have to come, but instead chose to come.

Raphael wanted to thank all of the sponsors for their support and donations that helped make this event the success that it was. Those sponsors include AMC Theatres, Chipotle Mexican Grill, In-N-Out Burger, McAlister’s Deli, Pokey O’s, Raising Cane’s, Sonic, and Apple Sport Chevrolet, who also sponsored the T-shirts for this year’s event.

The Marlin Democrat

251 Live Oak Street
P.O. Box 112
Marlin, TX 76661
Phone: 254-883-2554
Fax: 254-883-6553