-Last week, Washington, DC was the host to the The First National Tween Girl Summit sponsored by AK Tweens and AllyKatzz.com. Hundreds of girls from across the country joined together at the Nation’s Capital to learn more about issues that tween and teen girls are struggling with today; everything from boys to bullies to inner strength. Girls and their parents participated in an all day conference which was topped off with a special concert featuring Brooke White, Wow and Comic Book Heroes and hosted by Debby Ryan from “The Suite Life on Deck.”
We were so impressed and interested in the event that we wanted to share more information about it so that you can get geared up for next year’s event. We spoke with Denise Restauri, Founder and CEO of AllyKatzz.com and The First National Tween Girl Summit, to learn a little more about this great event.
SO-M: What made you decide to create the Tween Summit?
Denise: After reading thousands of blogs that tween girls posted on AllyKatzz.com, our safe social networking site for tween girls ages 9-15, the message was loud and clear: These girls have a lot to say and they want a platform to stand up, speak out and be heard – by the world, especially adults. They have opinions and voices, but they were missing a platform.
In addition, on the night of the Presidential Election, when the First Family appeared with tween girls… there was another AHA moment… that the time has come to shine the spotlight on ALL tween girls.
It’s started that night… and kept building:
**President called on ALL Americans to participate in our nation’s recovery and renewal by serving in our communities.
**White House Council on Women and Girls. Shouldn’t ALL girls have a say about the policies and programs that impact them? These girls can’t vote, but they need to be heard.
SO-M: Why is it important to get this information out to girls of this age, rather than when they’re older teens?
D: Tween girls have much to say. These girls have strong opinions about what is going on in the world and they want to be heard. It is important for the opinions of these “tweenaged girls” to be respected because by the time they are teens, they have fewer opportunities to develop their self-confidence and self-esteem. Being a tween offers a unique time for them to find their inner power and strength.
SO-M: Which topics do you think are the most important for these young girls to learn about?
D: At The Tween Summit, we covered the topics we feel are most important to help girls find their inner strength and be able to stand up for themselves and what they believe in… for example, Body Peace (Feeling good about who they really are vs. the pressure to be beautiful) and Bullying (not just cyber bullying, but all bullying – including domestic and teen dating abuse).
SO-M: Why did you choose Washington, DC to hold the Summit?
D: The First National Tween Girl Summit needed to be in Washington, D.C. because of our theme of speaking up and being heard. Our entire team felt there was no better place than our Nation’s Capital for the tweens to voice their opinions and discuss solutions.
SO-M: Can you describe what someone attending the Summit did throughout the day? (Describe a few of the panels, activities).
D: The majority of the day was built around girls speaking up and being heard – totally different than a conference that is built around adults talking and girls listening. The first session was a listening panel… girls identified the biggest issues on their minds – then we brought in a “Listening Panel” of accomplished people in the world of leadership, politics, entertainment and sports – to listen and become the megaphones for these girls. The final session of the day… girls made their personal pledges on how they will change the world. The video will be sent to The White House and is available to be viewed on AllyKatzz.com (http://www.allykatzz.com/page/home/).
SO-M: How did you choose the celebrity talent that participated in the Summit and Concert?
D: We wanted a great mix of music for the girls and to give them a chance to experience artists that are on their way to the top as well as artists that are on their “OMG FAVE” list. We also wanted to feature a concert host and performing artists that really believe in the power of tween girls and wanted to support them. We were thrilled when The Disney Channel’s Debby Ryan said she wanted to host The Tween Summit Music Festival because when she talks with the girls, she is one of them… Debby was bullied in middle school and now wants to help other girls through their tween years.
SO-M: With the success of the first Summit, are there plans in the works for another?
D: Yes, we are already planning for Summit 2010! In addition, we are exploring town hall meetings to give more girls from across the nation a platform to stand up and be heard throughout the year.
SO-M: What is the message you hope girls that attended or will attend in the future will bring from the Summit.
D: That what they feel and have to say is important and adults want to listen to them and help them. Together, we can make a difference.
For more info on the Tween Girl Summit and how you can get involved, visit http://www.tweensummit.com/. Hope to see some of you at next year’s event!