Young women’s conference deemed a hit

Fifty-five young women, in Grades 7-12 from across Rainy River District, attended the annual Young Women’s Conference at the Luther Village retreat near Sioux Narrows over the weekend.
The group watched skits put on by the Fort Frances High School Drama department about girl power and Inner beauty, and listened to successful women in non-traditional roles talk about their experiences.
They also put on a talent show—and even learned some new dance moves.
Both event organizers and student activity co-ordinators hailed the event as a great success and the best one to date.
“It was just wonderful,” said event organizer Leslie Barr-Kellar. “It was probably the best year. It went like clockwork.”
Conference organizers arranged for several guest speakers to talk about various issues young women could be faced with.
Kenora OPP Cst. Dave Cain spoke about the risks of the Internet and cyber-bullying. He presented them with tips on how to protect their personal information on the Internet, as well as the importance of password secrecy.
“He told us to not tell people our password because if someone has it, they could have access to a lot of our personal information,” noted Kaily Lundgren, a Grade 11 student at Rainy River High School.
“That is scary and something I never really thought about or knew the risks of before,” she added.
Meanwhile, Pam Hawley, curator of the Fort Frances Museum, Deb Cornell, a local entrepreneur/farmer, and Jennifer Anderson, a funeral director at Green’s Funeral Home in Fort Frances, got the group thinking about different career opportunities that are available.
“We asked these ladies to speak to the girls because they are successful at their jobs and some of their positions may not have been jobs the students were aware of,” Barr-Kellar explained.
The three also shared personal experiences with the students and answered any questions they had about their jobs.
Meanwhile, all the attendees were excited to find out that Sherree Denby’s dance session, “Hippin & Hoppin,” was scheduled in the calendar of events again this year.
The popular activity had everyone on their feet and hoppin’, said Lundgren.
“The dancing is always a favourite and a lot of fun. The girls really get into it,” she added.
Each participant who attends the conference is an individual who will be a good representative for their school and are mature enough to handle the information presented to them.
The students are selected by teachers or guidance counsellors from their school, and are required to do an interview before attending, said Barr-Kellar.
This year, three school boards in Northwestern Ontario sent students to the conference. The majority (45) were from the Rainy River District School Board, with 10 from the Northwest Catholic District School Board and four from Keewatin-Patricia.
Three student reps from Rainy River High School were appointed by conference organizers to put their leadership skills to work and plan activities that would be used to fill time slots where organizers hadn’t.
As such, Nadia Johnson, Alicia Langlais, and Lundgren filled the down time with activities they felt would be popular with their peers, such as capture the flag and beach volleyball.
“We chose stuff to get the girls active, involved, and make them feel comfortable,” Johnson remarked.
Lundgren felt, overall, that the activities she and her fellow co-ordinators conducted were a success and went smoothly.
“I saw a lot of smiles on the girls’ faces while they were playing the games and we had a lot of laughs,” she enthused.
Through the use of team-building exercises, the youths were to come up with their own way to present the information they had learned at the conference to their peers back at school.
The students from Rainy River High School, for instance, plan to present the information in a slide show to young female students at Riverview elementary school there.
“We were all very proud of the students and how the weekend turned out,” said Barr-Kellar. “We hope the girls share the information they learned with others.”