This coming Thursday, October 11th, 2018, the Middle Years (MY) girls will be hosting their fourth annual Empowerment Day in honour of the UN International Day of the Girl. When the Girls’ Empowerment Day was introduced to our SMS community back in 2015, the goal was to celebrate “being a girl/woman and using this particular day to connect mothers and other female role-models to highlight a camaraderie/sisterhood of support.” The International Day of the Girl is designed to empower girls to believe they belong in their dream jobs, have voices that demand respect, and have the confidence and the ability to contribute to meaningful decisions that that can lead to positive change in the world. The opportunity for mothers (or other female role models) and daughters to bond and feel a strong connection on this date was the impetus for the planned activities at SMS. Later in the school year, the Grade four staff plan an event with the fathers and daughters knowing that this relationship is also very powerful and important in the health and well-being of our girls.

Upon reflecting on an email I received regarding the power of many positive role models – both male and female – in a child’s life, I came to realize that we all need to help foster independence, confidence, and compassion in our children. Hence, the theme of this blog – creating a community of empowerment! Every person needs both role models and mentors to help them grow, learn, and advance towards their aspirations. Our students require individuals who can provide feedback, encouragement, and examples of those specific behaviours/skills we want our students to emulate. I believe that this type of role modelling starts very close to home!

For most children, the most important role models are their parents and caregivers, who have a regular presence in their lives. As parents you can influence the direction of a child’s character, reinforce values you want your child to adopt, display resiliency and openness to possibilities, and, finally, demonstrate a willingness to see disappointment/mistakes as an opportunity to be better prepared for the “next time.” As a parent, you can share your stories by:

• Describing who has made a big difference in your life and why;
• Sharing the names of those whom you look to for guidance and inspiration;
• Recognizing those family members or friends who have shown courage, kindness, or perseverance;
• Supporting those leaders who are making a positive contribution to the community;
• Demonstrating how you react to challenges and how you respond to struggles and past regrets;
• Identifying and explaining why you admire certain individuals.

The stronger and healthier your relationship is with your children, the greater your influence will be – something that is critical given the myriad of connections and influences that social media has on self-esteem, as well as the impact of peer pressure which, in some instances, can be negative.

Other positive role models include teachers, coaches, older siblings or family members, neighbours, friends’ parents…. These people often play a key role in supporting, mentoring, and encouraging our children in positive ways, helping them grow in confidence and competence. Good role models can make lifelong impressions on children! True role models/mentors are those individuals that have an impactful influence on our lives; who help us want to be better people; who help us advocate for ourselves; who work closely with us on the issues we believe in; who will be honest, forgiving, supportive, and demanding; who are comfortable enough with us to disagree when necessary; and finally, who will encourage us to be confident, humble, reflective, and forward-moving.

So…. at St. Margaret’s, our goal is to create a community of empowerment that includes an abundance of role models, mentors, and advocates while also providing numerous examples of trailblazers, changemakers, groundbreaking women of the past, and potential leaders. We also want to celebrate the importance of those positive male role models in our lives who tell us to believe in our abilities, who support our dreams, and who empower us to be the best person we can be! As my father once told me, “Surround yourself with people who will empower you to become better and your life will be happy.”

“Every girl needs to learn from exercising her potential to lead and to practice the humility to follow.” Susan Cain

“Self-empowerment is seeking the solution rather than fixating on the problem.”
Coach Bobbi

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
Eleanor Roosevelt