The past week and a half at Hardy Girls has been an exciting (and full) time. It was my first Girls Rock! Weekend and, while I loved my job before that, the weekend solidified my passion. On Friday, I watched 200 girls and their allies flow into a Colby college building, bursting with energy and adventure. They started with the Action Spots – creating Feminism flags, stepping on the YAY scale, framing themselves as activists, banning words and advocating for others, and talking back to the media.

Just Be Yourself and Smile

Feminism Flags Action Spot

Then we all gathered in the auditorium, the crowd already buzzing. I had the privilege of introducing our GAB girls and watching the 4th-8th grade eyes light up as their high school presenters talked about topics they probably wondered if other people think about: girls playing sports, girls from other countries, archetypes in literature. I could tell everything meant more coming from girls than anything we could have said on stage. The younger girls were soaking it up.

They went off to the workshops, eager in their matching t-shirts. They learned about self expression, sexualization in the media, being your own SHEro, and more. Meanwhile the adults came together to talk about what our girls are up against. The unhealthy soil they are planted in and how we can nourish their growth.

The day ended with a slideshow, the girls cheering when they saw themselves and their friends and allies projected onto the big screen.

Girls Rock! Award Winners

Girls Rock! Award Winners

After this energizing, but already long day, the staff of Hardy Girls packed, unpacked, and re-packed our cars, high on the power of girls. We met up in Augusta for the 6th Annual Girls Rock! Awards to honor five girls who are making Maine a better place to live and grow. The winners are the first Somali female to win a cross-country meet in the state of Maine; transgender activist who has walked the halls of the Maine legislature; a fashion designer and business owner who found her niche designing fashionable and modest clothing for young Muslim women; a performer and fundraiser who started her own nonprofit at age eight after her mother beat cancer for the third time; and an enthusiastic freshman with Down Syndrome who joined the cheer squad, not only redefining “able,” but redefining team. We also honored Betsy Parsons with our Co-Creator Award for her decades of work supporting Gay-Straight-Transgender-Alliances in Maine high schools and co-founding GLSEN Southern Maine. Each winner accepted the awards with speeches sharing their stories of conviction, activism, and leadership. I was humbled by their stories and even more determined to continue the work we do.

Projections Action Spot

Projections Action Spot

We headed home for some sleep only to reconvene in Portland early the next day to do it all over again. More bright faces, more confident hands shooting up in the air, more words to ban and better choices given. Over both conferences, we had over 350 girls and their allies! Our goal for Portland was 50 registrations (based on our 35 from last year) and we had 150! I went home so pumped that instead of going to sleep, I sat reading conference evaluations until way past my bedtime.

As a staff, we felt inspired, ecstatic, motivated… and tired. 🙂

So when my Board told me we were extending our mini-retreat this immediate past weekend to be a Friday overnight and work session on Saturday, I met that with mixed feelings. We talked about finances, collaboration, planning. There were times when differences of opinions elevated the volume of the conversation and definitely felt a little heated. This, even this, was exhilarating. After spending the previous weekend seeing the energy and power of girls, I spent this weekend with passionate, hardy women. We discussed, we voiced, and we modeled. Being a team doesn’t mean always agreeing or pretending you’re fine with decisions when you aren’t. It was invigorating to be apart of big conversations that were treated with the gravity they deserve, but sense of humor, empathy and strength of conviction were not lost. These women are committed to the equality, independence and safety for girls and women in Maine and I’m lucky to have them on the Hardy Girls team.

I’m beyond proud of the Hardy Girls staff, honored to have the incredible Board and inspired by girls of Maine. Thank you to everyone who volunteered, donated, or attended. Girls Rock!!

HGHW Staff

HGHW Staff