Girls’ Day Out brings about reflection, courage

The free event was aimed at girls 11-14 to work on self-esteem building exercises and activities.

Dreaming big and being confident was the name of the game for those who participated in Saturday’s Girls’ Day Out self-esteem workshop in Bremerton.

The free event, geared toward young girls between 11-14, focused on self-esteem boosts through interactive discussions and activities throughout the day. Daughters were encouraged to come with their mother or a mentor to participate.

The event was a partnership between Leadership Kitsap, Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound and the Youth Wellness Campus. Leadership Kitsap members also revamped the club’s SMART program curriculum, which focuses on healthy attitudes and lifestyles.

Dayna Garcia heard about the event through Facebook and decided to bring her daughter, Kaelyn, 12, to the event.

Both mother and daughter agreed that the event turned out to be enjoyable, even with a serious message and undertone. The pair quietly and intently watched the opening video for the day, focused on the “tricks” of magazine photo shoots and movie star makeup.

Garcia wanted her daughter to take part in the workshop as a self confidence booster.

“She went through a really hard time in school,” Garcia’s mother said. “She was bullied a lot.”

When her daughter lost weight and her self esteem started plummeting, she knew doctors needed to intervene. Now, a few years later, Kaelyn is starting to open up a little bit more.

Over the last few years, Kaelyn’s parents worked hard to “build her self esteem back because it was heartbreaking,” her mother noted.

Although soft spoken, the 12-year-old said she knows she needs to open up and be more confident, especially if she wants to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. She admitted she one day hopes to audition for The Voice.

“I’m glad I came because I’ve been really shy,” she said. “I want to overcome that.”

The Girls’ Day Out workshop was built with girls like Kaelyn in mind, notes one of the event organizers, Melissa Reeves, also a Leadership Kitsap member.

“I love the idea of the empowerment of girls,” she said. “There are moments in your youth that shape you. Maybe there’s one thing here they can take away something from this today (that will shape them).  I think that can open eyes, so that’s kind of cool.”

Despite the steady, pouring rain, the mood of the Girls’ Day Out event was uplifting and happy. Females who are known to be community good role models were selected to act as facilitators throughout the day, working with small groups of girls on various activities, including Washington Youth Academy female cadets.

During a mini break, Reeves took to the front of the room to offer some yoga tips to the audience, and encouraged everyone to get up and stretch. Reeves told the girls to use the deep breathing moves to relieve stress.

Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent opened the event as keynote speaker, introducing herself to the audience and offering a note of encouragement to the young women.

“When you want to do something, you have to put all of your interest, all of your passion into that thing,” she told the audience.

The girls later took that to heart, cutting out images from magazines for a “vision board” for things they hope to achieve in their future. And to further encourage positive thinking about their future, participants wrote letters to their future selves as a way to provide a record of their current lives, views and dreams of the person they wish to be.

The event was exactly what Garcia hoped it would be for her daughter and others.

“I thought, “what a great experience with the powerful women here,'” said Garcia. “I love it. I’m so glad they did this.”