As a teen growing up in Idaho Falls, Heather Mason says she was shy and not very sure of herself. She credits several key adults in her life, who became her mentors, with teaching her the life skills she needed to push through her insecurities.
“I was so lucky to have a high school history teacher who pushed me to take on leadership roles and join the debate team and a dance teacher who taught me to always keep my head high, and not just during dance class,” says Mason.
Knowing first-hand how important having poise and confidence is for helping young women to pursue their dreams, Mason started the SUREFIRE Girls Conference last year. The daylong event, which will be held this year on Oct. 11 in Santa Monica, features speakers and workshops geared towards teaching young girls important skills ranging from interview techniques for an internship or a job to best ways to present themselves on social media and money management tips.
This year’s conference features 13 workshops, including “Mirror, Mirror,” exploring the often distorted image of ideal beauty presented in fashion magazines; “Geek is Chic,” focusing on helping girls celebrate their smarts by building a website, programing a video game or building their own rocket ship; and “Friends and Frenemies,” exploring the complicated landscape of teenage friendships. For a complete list of workshops or to register, visit: http://firebrand-concepts.com/index_surefire.php
Each workshop topic was put together with the help of focus groups consisting of local high school students. “We wanted to create a conference based on what the girls were interested in,” Mason says.
While researching the local teen landscape, Mason says she discovered some unique characteristics that are very L.A.
“Money is a big issue,” says Mason. “There is a big disparity in Los Angeles between girls who have very little money and those with so much.”
Cultural pressure is another unique issue facing local teen girls. Young girls who are first-generation Americans must navigate and manage the often-conflicting cultural expectations of their family and their peers, which can be very stressful.
Mason’s goal for this second-annual conference is to address these issues and offer mentorship, skills and knowledge to help young girls conquer their fears and adversities to pursue their dreams.
“There are moments that can change your life,” says Mason. “We want to create a spark in these young girls’ lives. We want every girl walking straight and tall and feeling good about herself and her future.”