This past Saturday, we were proud to hold our annual Fall Conference at UP Academy in Dorchester, MA. We couldn’t have been more excited to connect and train our new and returning mentors! It’s always nice to have our mentors return from summer break to kick off the year with us. The summers are quiet for us! This year’s conference included workshops on numerous mentor training sessions, leadership and diversity, an overview of the Strong Leaders Network and Playworks Power of Play activity.
Siiri Morley, Boston Executive Director of Strong Women, Strong Girls opened the day by noting that two main themes for the year are focusing on 1) diversity, inclusion, and cultural sensitivity and 2) responsibility to the safety of our girls. A representative from the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts supported this focus by noting the importance of keeping up with the safety measure policies of the program.
Our college mentors engaged in an activity before lunch that honed in on how to expand access and inclusion of youthwith disabilities. They were clustered in a group, standing, and forming different groups based on the kinds of pants they were wearing.
The facilitator had the mentors separate themselves into groups of “dark jeans” and “everything else”.
She asked the group of women who were outside of the “dark jeans” group how they felt while being excluded from the women who were wearing dark jeans. The ones excluded felt like they didn’t have the ability to connect with the others. They were then asked to form what they believed inclusion meant to them. To their surprise, they started to intertwine and began laughing and embracing one another.
The facilitator explained the attitude-shift between both exercises: when they felt excluded, there was no chatter and no smiles but when they felt included it was the complete opposite; reiterating the high emphasis on mentoring a diverse set of methods to be inclusive to every girl in the program this year. Not only were our workshops full of interesting and current training conversations, they were full of high engagement! Everyone was eager to participate by raising their hands to
contribute their opinions and ideas while also listening attentively to each other during group sessions.
Junior and college mentors gathered to discuss personal
and mentoring goals. It was great to see friendships reuniting after the summer and learning how to become more improved leaders. Fakisha Fabre, SWSG’s Program Assistant, ignited the workshop with an icebreaker and then asked the girls to explain, in their opinion, what being a leader and mentor looks like:
“Junior mentors are there to help the mentors, not sit down.”
“We’re there to encourage the kids like our college mentors did with us.”
Fall Conference was such an amazing and inspiring event for mentors and girls to connect an become excited for the impactthey will make this year! With our new curriculum, strong support and passionate leaders there is no doubt that our work will continue to benefit the cycle of mutual empowerment.