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Conference encourages girls to be themselves

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Mar 23, 2014 - 2:40 PM |
Participants in the second annual Perfectly Flawed Girls Conference North make outfits out of newspapers March 22. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Participants in the second annual Perfectly Flawed Girls Conference North make outfits out of newspapers March 22. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Offers a safe place to discuss bullying, depression

When Jaden Irvine was in Grade 7, she was bullied. Although it was a difficult experience, she said it served to strengthen her spirituality.

“No matter what, God has a purpose for your life,” said Irvine, now 15. “God made you different. God made you who you are for a reason. You might still have to find that reason, but there is still a reason.”

The teen said she enjoyed hearing the stories of how other girls have overcome their difficulties at the second annual Perfectly Flawed Girls Conference North, which was held March 21-22 at Glad Tidings Church.

The conference, which was attended by about 100 girls in grades 6-12, focused on issues such as bullying, depression, anxiety, self-harm and social media.

Organizer Karen Hourtovenko said the term “Perfectly Flawed” refers to the idea that everyone is flawed, but that's OK.

“A lot of girls, they challenge themselves because they think they're not perfect,” she said. “Well nobody's perfect. We're all just great the way we are.”

The conference gives girls a safe place to open up about their problems, she said.

“Often girls put on masks when they're around other people because they want to be like somebody else,” Hourtovenko said.

“What we want to do is tear down the walls of what girls have built up around each other and try to allow them a safe place to talk about what their issues are and to get help if they need it.”

Although the conference had a spiritual component, Hourtovenko said girls of any faith were welcome to attend.

Perfectly Flawed featured guest speakers sharing how they've overcome challenges in their life and breakout sessions where participants discussed their own issues.

Another session — the Truth Panel — allowed the girls to anonymously text in questions they'd like to ask guys. A panel of young men in their late teens and early 20s answered the questions in front of an audience.

It wasn't all heavy topics, though.

The girls were treated to several fun activities, including making outfits out of newspapers, choosing donated items at the Brown Bag Boutique and listening to contemporary Christian music played by a live worship band.

“It's really fun,” said 12-year-old Ellie Brereton. "It's a great way to make connections outside your circle and meet other girls that you wouldn't otherwise.”
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer


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