When I first heard about the teen girls conference by Rocking Ur Teens I was intrigued. I wish I had rocked my teens. As I think back those few, ok quite a few, years I am reminded of how awkward they were. I was finding out about the world, about myself and preparing for some big decisions to come but not really feeling old enough or prepared enough to make them. So when I read one of the missions for Rocking Ur Teens was to “Equip teens to enjoy their teenage years, while also using them to catapult them to future career success” I started to think I was going to be part of a very special day.
When I arrived into the Thomson Reuters conference room with the 200 13-14 year old young girls I was taken back to a school assembly. Filing in, taking our seats, quiet chatter with the girl sat next to you and a sense of anticipation of what was to come but this is where the similarity ended. I was not prepared for what was about to begin….
The day was hosted by Remel London, an award winning TV and radio presenter and media personality who had the crowd on their feet from the first moment. She was fun, energetic and relevant and the teens were quickly enjoying the lively atmosphere. Throughout the day we heard from a number of speakers who all had their stories to tell and their journeys to share.
Emma Barnett, Women’s Editor of the Telegraph opened the talks with her “break the rules” approach. Sharing advice on taking every opportunity presented to you and carving out your own path in life. The messages of always saying yes and taking experience where you can were strong.
Yasmin Ali, Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2013 then took to the stage. Her absolute passion and enjoyment for her career in the oil and gas industry was clear for all to see and we were reminded by her that even in a male dominated industry there is no reason why women can’t innovate and design the world we are all a part of. She also had a message for us all about the importance of determination, perseverance and being open to new challenges.
The energy and excitement of The Mandeville Sisters were next. These sisters aged 18 and 20 are presenters and vLoggers who started their careers on You Tube. They shared with the teens that it was cool to be different and that their rejections and disappointments of the past had driven them to think creatively and now they were spending their lives meeting incredible people, sharing their views with the world and making things happen for themselves.
A break out session of seminars on entrepreneurship, technology and leadership finished off the morning session. Jenny Garrett and her 13 year old daughter Leah’s advise on speaking up, taking action, believing in yourself and bringing people together certainly got the crowd considering if they were leaders in their world.
The buzz over lunch was of lessons learnt so far. Girls who now believed they could be anything they wanted to be. They realised that the girl sat next to them might not look like them, or come from the same postcode, or in some cases might not have even visited London before, but the differences didn’t matter as they were all teenage girls going through similar situations.
The afternoon saw more discussions on making good choices, volunteering and dreaming big with advice and tips from Marsha Powell from BelEve UK and the young volunteers from the I Will campaign. Sharing through talks and even a short drama piece that making the right decision and also contributing to your community all leads to achieving your dream. A panel of apprentices, graduates and interns also shared their story on their post school experiences.
As the day drew to a conclusion all of the girls were asked to pledge how they would make a difference. While the songs of Tendai closed the conference I took a moment to read some of the girls pledges. Following such an event filled day it was heart warming to read that so many young people had been inspired, had been given time to reflect on their aspirations and a chance to consider how social change may effect their lives and the lives of others. My favourite pledge summed up not only the day but the bright shinning stars of the future we have among us. A 13 year old girl wrote
“I pledge to make a difference by inspiring someone to live their dream.”
This blog was written by Gail Butt who kindly gave up her time to support Rocking Ur Teens.
Our next conference will take place on 17th March, 2016. We are seeking a host organisation and sponsors, do get in touch if its of interest.