Malvern’s young women share empowerment with Grade 8 girls

More than 200 girls attended the fifth annual Grade 8 Girls Conference hosted by the Malvern Young Women’s Empowerment Group on April 29.

The event took place at Malvern CI from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and featured workshops, a keynote presentation, lunch and more. The conference was a way for Grade 8 girls attending Malvern in the fall and students currently attending feeder schools to experience high school in a non-intimidating, inclusive and fun way.

Malvern student Hayley Volden, right, speaks with visiting Grade 8 girls about mental health during the Young Women's Empowerment Conference on April 29. PHOTO: Andrew Hudson
Malvern student Hayley Volden, right, speaks with visiting Grade 8 girls about mental health during the Young Women’s Empowerment Conference on April 29.
PHOTO: Andrew Hudson

Young Women’s Empowerment is a club at Malvern with 80-plus members, making it the largest all-women’s club in the Toronto District School Board. In YWEG we facilitate discussions, host guest speakers, have team-building events and educate ourselves on women’s issues in our community and worldwide.

Our biggest project of the year is our Grade 8 Girls Conference. For the past four years, YWEG has hosted the conference to help make the transition from middle school to high school as easy as possible.

Our conference this year was a huge success, thanks to the enormous amount of help we received from the community. When the girls first arrived, they were greeted by YWEG members and brought into the auditorium. As the student leader of YWEG, I welcomed the group and then introduced our first workshop, What Is Feminism? The workshop focused on breaking down the stigma of feminism and explaining its true meaning as opposed to its negative connotations.

After the first workshop, we enjoyed a free lunch of sandwiches from Beaches Bakeshop & Cafe and homemade quinoa salad, juice boxes and apples. The girls also had an opportunity to visit our homemade YWEG photo booth.

We reconvened for the keynote presentation given by Lia Grimanis and our keynote performer Natty Valencia. Both were phenomenal speakers and truly engaged our audience in an empowering and educational way.

“Congratulations on such a successful day! I hope you had a lot of fun!” said Valencia.

The girls then took part in student-led workshops covering topics like mental health, healthy eating and active living, international women’s issues, healthy relationships, and busting the myths many young girls have about high school.

Christina, a Grade 8 student visiting Malvern Collegiate for the Young Women's Empowerment Conference, sips a kale smoothie whipped up for a workshop on healthy eating.  "It tastes like a leaf," she said, laughing. PHOTO: Andrew Hudson
Christina, a Grade 8 student visiting Malvern Collegiate for the Young Women’s Empowerment Conference, sips a kale smoothie whipped up for a workshop on healthy eating.
“It tastes like a leaf,” she said, laughing.
PHOTO: Andrew Hudson

After the Grade 8’s attended two workshops each, we said goodbye and gave them their ‘swag bags,’ full of amazing donations from sponsors. We are so grateful to everyone who donated to these bags and the conference and made our day something we were very proud to be a part of and something the Grade 8’s really enjoyed.

We have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from parents, students at Malvern, administration, teachers and participants.

“My daughter went to the Young Women’s Empowerment Conference yesterday and came home raving about the event and your school. Please let the students and staff know they did an amazing job,” said Trevor Bullen.

YWEG member Sophia Mathies said she is “so proud to be involved in a group that empowers, inspires, and educates young women at Malvern and in our community.”

The success of the conference is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of the women in our community to create positive change.  Thank you very much to everyone who helped plan, donated and attended the conference and made it an amazing, educational and fun day for everyone!

For more information and photos from the conference, check out facebook.com/MalvernYWEG and @malvernyweg on Instagram!

Avery Johnstone is a student at Malvern CI and the student leader of the Malvern Young Women’s Empowerment Group.


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