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Leadership conference aims to empower young girls

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Middle school students participated in She Leads conference at Bermuda High School (Photograph supplied)

Middle school pupils completed an annual leadership and development conference focused on female empowerment.

Students from Bermuda High School, Dellwood Middle School, the Whitney Institute and Bryanston Prep School, in Dorset, England, spent three days participating in the second She Leads Middle School Conference at BHS from April 1 to 3.

Created as an extension of the She Leads: A Real-World Readiness Programme, which runs in the summer for female high school students, the event introduced themes that empower girls from a younger age.

The conference included hands-on experience, guest speakers and workshops.

One participant said: “I initially thought the programme would be just about leadership but the conference was about so much more.

“We learnt about the importance of self-care. We also learnt that if you are not ready to serve then you are not ready to lead, and that was really impactful for me.”

Another reflected: “Volunteering at the Women’s Transformational Living Centre was my favourite part.

“I also really enjoyed meeting new people and getting to know them.

“I am leaving this conference having made many new friends.”

One participant enjoyed speaking with professionals at HSBC about the different career options it offered.

Middle school students participated in She Leads conference at Bermuda High School (Photograph supplied)

On the first day of the conference, Stacey-Lee Williams, the executive director of Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda, talked to the students about breaking barriers.

Hannah Jones and Leila Bateman of Island Nutrition spoke about healthy eating and cooking.

Guest speakers and students also took part in a workshop about responsible social media use.

On the second day, participants enjoyed an HSBC career panel featuring Megan Sousa, an HR business partner, Tanya Bule, the head of wealth and personal banking, and Michelle Walkes, the head of customer, international and marketing.

Tiffany Paynter, of Sohma, was on hand to lead the girls through a yoga practice, followed by a workshop on goal-setting for high school and resilience led by Shirley Kelly, a She Leads co-ordinator.

The conference culminated in a volunteering session with Elaine Butterfield, of the Transformational Living Centre, and students welcomed guests to view their projects.

Carol Swainson, the head of BHS, said: “We are so grateful to HSBC for funding this important real-world programme.

“It empowered the students to start thinking about what they need to give themselves in learning, compassion and social-emotional support to achieve their goals.

“From yoga to friendship, they gained concrete strategies to use when faced with decisions, rejection and life’s hurdles that must be overcome.”

Judy Doidge, HSBC executive sponsor, added: “At HSBC, we believe in providing opportunities to support girls in shaping our society through their valuable contributions.

“That’s why we’re honoured to once again partner with the She Leads Middle School Conference which provides the framework to empower its young participants’ growth as they progress both academically and personally.

“Thank you to BHS Charitable Trust for its commitment to delivering this impactful programme to the community.

“Together, we’re fostering a future where every girl can thrive and lead in confidence.”

Applications are open for the summer She Leads programme, which will run from July 1 to July 5 at BHS. It is offered to young women from all schools on the island who will enter their final year of high school in September 2024.

The application deadline is May 24.

For more information go to https://www.bhs.bm/school-life/she-leads

Middle school students participated in She Leads conference at Bermuda High School (Photograph supplied)

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Published April 10, 2024 at 3:26 pm (Updated April 11, 2024 at 6:01 pm)

Leadership conference aims to empower young girls

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