CAMP LIVEGIRL DAY 5: THE LAST DAY

The final day of Camp LiveGirl kicked off with inspiring keynote speaker Hadley Pollet, CEO and Founder of Hadley Pollet Designs. Creating her own company in 2002, Ms. Pollet’s goal was to cater to women and young girls with a “positive and uplifted spirit – or whose spirit needs uplifting”.

Ms. Pollet was first inspired to start making her own designs while attending Rhode Island College of Design, when she wore a belt she made herself out of vintage ribbon at a party and received many compliments. While experimenting with her colorful floral designs back then, she first created her patented zinnia patterns from difficult times she endured later in life. As a victim of domestic abuse and having personal connections to the tragic events of 9/11, Ms. Pollet found catharsis in creating her bright and happy designs to inspire other women to feel good.

Ms. Pollet showed the LiveGirls that bravery doesn’t always have to mean being old and taking risks, sometimes it means being able to make light out of dark times and inspiring others to do the same. “Even from when I was a little girl, I was very willful,” she said. “I was able to push through the hard times with a little determination and through making my designs and building my company.”

After showing off her belt, headband, and purse designs, she then asked the LiveGirls to get into groups and come up with a slogan for her company, ultimately picking, “A happy kid is a Hadley mother”. The group members that came up with it got Hadley Pollet headbands!

Following Ms. Pollet, LiveGirls broke into two groups in the place of Leaders in Action. One stayed in the auditorium to hear Meaghan and Jamiah from BRAVE, Girls Leadership Inc. who walked the girls through an empowering workshop that allowed them to step outside their comfort zones, voicing what they love about themselves and what being brave looks like to them. Other LiveGirls joined a coding workshop, introducing them to basic coding skills that allowed them to make a basic computer game.

For the afternoon, the LiveGirls headed to their multi-sports and musical theatre workshops for the last time, the girls in sports working on their game in basketball, and soccer as well as yoga and strength training. The girls doing musical theatre performed their finished song and dance number from Singin’ in the Rain that they learned from the Summer Theatre of New Canaan!

Thank you for an incredible and empowering week, LiveGirls! You showed us just how brave and kind you can be, and it was wonderful to see each and every one of you open your hearts to each other and yourselves. We hope you take the lessons you learned and friends you made this week and keep them with you forever. Don’t forget to rock your smart, and deposit in your brave bank every day. You are all so smart, strong, and special!

Special thanks to all of our sponsors who made this week possible as well: Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, Oxygen Fitness, and Nielsen!

CAMP LIVEGIRL DAY 4: BE EMPOWERED

Donning navy blue Oscar t-shirts, the LiveGirls gathered to listen to the empowering advice of Anne Espiritu, VP of Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility at Oscar Health Insurance. Previously the Head of Global PR at Yahoo, Ms. Espiritu has made waves in the communications industry, currently using revolutionary technology and data to deploy new ways of delivering healthcare to customers through Oscar Health.

Born in the Philippines, Ms. Espiritu came to the US when she was very young, not knowing a word of English. Growing up and going to school, she have a tough time understanding her peers and teachers because they talked quickly. On top of that, she felt as if she couldn’t fit in with her classmates, who grew up in wealthy households. As a result, she was a quiet kid, and spent a lot of time by herself.

However, Ms. Espiritu had a tenacious inner self. She was a competitive Thai kickboxer during her teenage years, worked hard in school, which led her to University of California at Berkeley, the number one public university in the nation, and eventually Yahoo, where she landed a prestigious position managing their communications platforms. Aside from kickboxing and her work ethic in school, she actually credits some of her success to her quietness as a child. It allowed her to be able to connect with people, a skill she calls her “inner brilliance”. “I have always been empathetic,” Ms. Espiritu said. “As a kid, I would spend a lot of time observing people, kind of being on the outside. Having been alone and without friends at points in my life, I understand what it feels like. I was able to take something that resonated with me when I was younger and use it to help me understand and relate to others.”

At the end of her keynote speech, Ms. Espiritu left the LiveGirls with the advice to do something every day that’s out of their comfort zone so they gain a little bit more courage each day to be bold and empowered. “You have to take one brave step every day,” she said. “It can be small, but you've just deposited in your ‘brave bank’. This allows you to be braver over time.”

After hearing from Ms. Espiritu, the LiveGirls continued with the theme of empowerment and created skits demonstrating what it looks like to support and inspire others, then discussing in their mentoring groups how they can reach out to and empower others inside and outside LiveGirl. “Life is a mountain,” one LiveGirl mentoring group said in their skit. “We have to help each other climb it, because no one can get to the top by themselves!” Ms. Domino asked each LiveGirl to reflect on the skits in their journals, so they can look back on it when LiveGirl is over to feel empowered and inspired. The LiveGirls finished up in their mentoring groups by passing around a ball and talking about their hopes for the future.

After lunch, the LiveGirls continued either multi-sports and their musical theatre workshops. “I feel like I can take what I learned in the morning and practice it during afternoon activities,” one LiveGirl said. “Like in sports, we can empower each other by cheering each other on!”

CAMP LIVEGIRL DAY 3: BE KIND

Today, LiveGirls listened to Kate Vanek, SVP of Finance and CFO of US Media at Nielsen, who talked about how being kind, staying tough, and giving back to others allowed her to find success and become a leader of a $2.5 billion organization.

Ms. Vanek admits that math never came easily to her, and she didn’t know she wanted to study finance until after graduating from the University of Richmond with degrees in Spanish and International Studies. After lots of networking and eventually landing a job in financial consulting, she decided that she liked it and wanted to continue to work and move up in that industry. In order to make this happen, she went back to school to earn her MBA from the Columbia University Business School.

While many of the job opportunities Ms. Vanek found out of grad school didn’t come to her with “a big red bow” on them, she realized that she had to show grit by sticking with it, asking for help, learning from her co-workers, giving credit to others, and “rocking her smart”. This demonstrated that she was hard-working and dedicated to her profession, allowing her to move up from lower-level jobs and positions until she ultimately earned the job she really wanted: working at Nielsen Company in New York City.

Ms. Vanek can definitely attest to the fact that strong work ethic can propel you into success and leadership, even when you may not have the experience. But, she also adds that staying humble, as well as being willing to give credit to others, made her co-workers trust her and want to work with her. She advised the LiveGirls to start working on these qualities now so they become second-nature in the future. “Be hard-working and selfless when you're at camp, when you go back to school, when you're asked to lead a sports team, and when you go to college,” she said. “Think about being kind and giving to others, and it will always stick with you.”

After Ms. Vanek’s inspiring talk, the LiveGirls watched Rachel Platten’s “Stand by You” music video to begin the Leaders in Action workshop. Ms. Domino highlighted the lyrics, discussing the girls how they can stand by their friends even if they’re “walking through hell”, and what it means to be a loyal and supportive friend. The LiveGirls then transitioned back to the gym, where they made acrostic poems with their names, writing a positive quality about themselves for each letter of their name. After each LiveGirl read her poem to her mentoring group, they all took turns going around and complimenting each other.

“The things like [the self-love acrostic poems] that we do at LiveGirl are so empowering,” one LiveGirl said. “It makes me feel good about myself, and it makes me so happy to see everyone else building each other up. It’s nice to know that people care about me for who I am, even if they just met me.”

After lunch, the LiveGirls participated in their afternoon activities. The girls who chose the musical theater workshop got the chance to learn a song and dance from Singin’ in the Rain from actors from the Summer Theater of New Canaan!

Remember to keep bringing in your female role model posters for the chance to win an Amazon gift card! See you tomorrow, LiveGirls!

CAMP LIVEGIRL DAY 2: BE BRAVE

On the second day of camp, the LiveGirls discussed what it means to be brave and resilient, and making their voice heard in order to achieve their dreams. They met keynote speaker Vincencia Adusei, President of VASE Construction Management, who embodies the courage to speak up and take charge in a male-dominated profession.

Ms. Adusei, who grew up in the city of Kumasi in Ghana, knew she wanted to be a part of the construction industry from a young age. Her parents owned and operated their own construction company in Kumasi, and she remembers the excitement and anticipation of going out to sites with her father when she was young. When she was in her early twenties, she made the decision to move to New York City to get a degree in business with the entrepreneurial mindset of starting her own construction consulting company in the US.

While working part-time at a construction firm in Stamford, she used her time off to start up her own company, which came to be known as VASE Construction Management. With VASE, she was able to help over 500 small companies with general contracting, managing their construction projects. Throughout the development of VASE, she had to work hard and be brave, because many times she was the only female in the room and had to prove herself to her co-workers. But, for her, being a woman was an asset, and not something that held her back. “Women have attention to detail, we are very considerate, and we are resilient,” she said in her presentation. “We’re not afraid to ask for help when we need it.”

After Ms. Adusei’s presentation, Ms. Domino followed up with the Leaders in Action workshop, playing the music video for Sara Bareilles’s “Brave” and discussing the girls what the message of the song meant to them. They then moved on to an activity with a parachute, where LiveGirls took turns saying situations in their lives where they had to be brave and running under the parachute. After that, the girls sat down in their mentoring groups with their high school leaders and discussed solutions to common tricky situations middle school girls face. “The activity with Ms. Domino was really helpful,” one LiveGirl said. “A lot of the situations she said were ones that I have been in at school. I learned how to get through those problems when I talked with other girls and my high school mentor.”

In the afternoon, the LiveGirls had fun with their free time playing sports like basketball and soccer, and participating in musical theater workshops. The Sacred Heart basketball team even came in to coach the girls!

Throughout the week, LiveGirls have brought in posters with a picture of a powerful woman they look up to, and facts about that role model. Every girl that creates a poster and brings it in gets a pair of sunglasses, and has the chance to win an Amazon gift card at the end of the week. Keep bringing in those posters, LiveGirls! And see you tomorrow for another full day of fun at camp!

CAMP LIVEGIRL DAY 1: BE YOURSELF

On this rainy Monday, over 100 middle school girls from all across Fairfield County filed into the New Canaan High School gym for the very first day of Camp LiveGirl.

Each camper was met by an enthusiastic high school mentor, who checked them in, handed them a lime green LiveGirl t-shirt, and guided them to a small group with a few other LiveGirls. As the girls played an icebreaker game with Starburst candy, laughter and conversation echoed through the gym, and the first-day-of-camp tentativeness dissipated.

After icebreakers, the girls were brought into the auditorium where LiveGirl founder and director Sheri West welcomed them, chanting the LiveGirl motto with the campers: “I am smart, I am strong, I am special”. After introducing herself and her small town-Michigan background, she revealed that her mother always told her to “dream big”, words that she held with her from from high school, to grad school, then to General Electric. At GE, she joined the Women’s Network, where she was mentored by women in senior positions within the company. She credits this program to her later success at GE, and was inspired to pay it forward to the next generation of female leaders by creating a mentoring program of her own, AKA LiveGirl.

Ms. West decided to cater LiveGirl to middle-school aged girls because, as a mother of a teen girl, she knows just how hard middle school can be. “Middle school should be a forgiving time. A time to try new things, take risks, fail, start over, and figure things out,” she said in her welcome. “I created LiveGirl as a ‘safe space’, where all girls can be surrounded by positivity, inspiration, and learn the leadership skills to successfully navigate high school so that you can eventually rule the world!”

As part of her introduction, Ms. West played  #BeLikeHer, a YouTube video that became viral earlier this month urging girls to look up to their female role models for inspiration and encouragement to follow their dreams. After watching the video, Ms. West passed around the microphone as the girls shared who they look up to, which included figures such as Malala Yousafzai, Clara Barton, Alessia Cara, and their own mothers. 

Meg Domino, Executive Director of New Canaan CARES, then took the lead for today’s Leaders in Action workshop. Focusing on the theme of “being yourself”, she showed the campers the music video to Colbie Caillat’s “Try”, a song telling girls that they are enough, and shouldn’t change anything about themselves. Ms. Domino then conducted a debrief with the LiveGirls after the video, discussing how to video made them feel. “You’re beautiful with makeup; makeup isn't bad,” one LiveGirl said. “You just have to know that you’re equally beautiful without it, and you don’t need it to make people like and respect you.”

Following Leaders in Action was small-group mentoring with the high school mentors, where the LiveGirls talked about what they liked about themselves, and why it was important to be confident. Then, the girls ate lunch catered by Simply Delicious, and broke for an afternoon of sports and musical theater workshops. 

Despite being a chilly and rainy day outside, Ms. West, Ms. Domino, and the high school mentors welcomed each LiveGirl with the warmth of welcome and the brightness of a smile. As the day progressed, each LiveGirl was able to reflect on what made them smart, strong, and special. And many of them could not wait to come back tomorrow to learn more about leadership and have fun with new friends!

Going back to school with a positive attitude and an open mind

With school just around the corner, we begin to bubble with anxiety and maybe even some excitement. You get your new schedule and check Instagram to see which friends will be in your classes. You run to the store to get new pencils and notebooks. But it’s so important to also think about the attitude that you're going to bring into the new school year. 

Whether you're bumping up to an advanced class or picking up a new instrument, we all need to have faith in ourselves and our own potential. Each and everyone of us has limitless potential if we full-heartedly believe in it. Do not let anyone tell you that it's “too late to pick up a new activity” or that something is “not worth trying”. Be open to new activities. Be curious of all the programs that your school offers. At Camp LiveGirl, many of you tried new sports and musical theatre for the first time! Now is the time to pursue your new interests at your school.

A new school year is the perfect opportunity to show off your radiant self-confidence. Let your smile and your passions be contagious. By pursuing your interests and taking chances you can actually inspire your peers too!

One thing that I always worried about when I was starting a new school year was whether or not I would have friends in my classes. It is great to see old friends and rekindle those relationships, but don't turn a blind eye to the possibility of making new friends too! New classes and new activities are great places to meet people that you haven't had the chance to previously meet. 

My best advice as you start a new school year? SMILE! Those first few weeks of school are so important when trying to make a good impression on teachers and your new classmates. Smile, be confident and friendly to others. You never know who you'll meet, and a new friend could become a lifelong friend! 

If you can remember those few bits of advice, I assure you that you'll be starting your year on the right foot. By pushing yourself to be open, brave and confident, you'll be able to develop and grow so much by the end of the year, which is ultimately the goal! Good luck and best wishes to you all as school comes back into session
 


PLEASE NOTE: This is Emilia’s last post. She is starting Santa Clara University this fall. We wish her well and look forward to her returning as a LiveGirl alumni blogger!

Camp LiveGirl Empowers and Inspires Fairfield County Middle School Girls by Emilia Savini

“I am smart. I am strong. I am special.” chanted more than 100 passionate girls at Camp LiveGirl, which recently concluded its second summer camp session at New Canaan High School. Camp LiveGirl brought together a diverse group of middle school girls from all over Fairfield County for a week of leadership development and empowerment.

I had the opportunity to attend Camp LiveGirl and was amazed by the impact that a week of leadership development and empowerment had on the girls. I witnessed transformations from shy, hesitant girls to bubbly, confident girls. I believe the magic ingredient is how LiveGirl facilitates team bonding through hands-on leadership activities, sports, and musical theatre games. Thinking back upon my own middle school experience, I can attest that LiveGirl is delivering a critical boost of positive self-confidence during what can be a very tough time for many girls.

Founder and director of LiveGirl, Sheri West of New Canaan, explained, “LiveGirl provides year-round leadership development for our girls. We provide after school mentoring, a leadership series and a summer camp,” West said. “Our goal is to foster deep connections and a broader network of friends (beyond a girl’s home school) that provides many positive benefits - a safe, empowering community.

LiveGirl’s mission is to "empower extraordinary”. This empowerment comes from the mentors, counselors and activities, all carefully designed by Sheri West. This year, Camp LiveGirl featured four keynote speakers that all motivated the girls to live fully and passionately. One of the keynote speakers was New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Oliver. Speakers also included New Canaan residents Heidi Sandreuter, Wendy Sloane, and Lori Tauber Marcus. These mentors provide a rich learning experience for LiveGirls like Ahhsha Crooks, a rising eighth grader from Stamford. “The LiveGirl experience gave me a lot more confidence than I used to have because it helped me to believe in myself,” she said. “And, they have given us role models that encourage us to achieve greatness.”

In addition to motivational presentations, LiveGirl provides the option for campers to participate in multi-sports or musical theatre. Thanks to a new collaboration with the Summer Theatre of New Canaan, the LiveGirl campers explored the performing arts, with the guidance from the nonprofit organization’s professional staff.

West said she was especially excited to offer the new theater program and career opportunities such as the Explore Fair, which brought in 25+ diverse career mentors, including many STEM-related careers because, “girls especially at this age benefit from trying new things in a safe environment. In addition, many of our campers are underserved youth (attending on full scholarship) and they don’t typically have access to these type of enrichment activities.” she said.

The final key piece to Camp LiveGirl’s success is Meg Domino, the executive director of New Canaan Cares. Throughout the week at Camp LiveGirl, Meg taught a course called Leaders-in-Action, which taught girls about decision-making, body image, communication and teamwork.

For Claire Brunner, a rising ninth grader from New Canaan, her experience with Leaders-in-Action was a critical part of her development throughout the week at Camp LiveGirl. “Meg is an awesome person to talk to and she will help you with your problems. She helped all of us to come together and communicate,” she said.

This is a historic time in American history with the nomination of the first female President. With leadership programs like LiveGirl preparing the next generation of female leaders, I believe our future is in good hands!


Emilia is a recent New Canaan High School graduate, where she was the Editor-in-Chief of The Courant. She will attend Santa Clara University in the fall. 
For more information on LiveGirl, visit www.goLiveGirl.com or connect on social media @goLiveGirl.

Camp LiveGirl Day 5 Blog Post

A Jam-Packed and Inspiring Day to Wrap Up Camp LiveGirl 2016

The final day of Camp LiveGirl 2016 started off on such a motivational note thanks to this morning’s keynote speaker, Lori Tauber Marcus. Not only is Lori a mother, a cancer survivor, a philanthropist and a wife, but also she is currently the Global Chief Marketing Officer at Peloton Cycle. Lori has worked in the corporate world for 32 years in marketing, and she held her job at Pepsi for 24 years! Just hearing Lori’s journey and career path was so inspiring.

Not only was her story astonishing, but also her words of wisdom to our LiveGirls. Lori told the girls that being a mother of two daughters, it is so important for her to set a positive example for them. “Everything in my life is about being a strong role model for women,” Lori said. Lori brought such a warm energy to Camp LiveGirl, and she lives as a wonderful example of hard work, determination and service to others.

Lori shared a handful of important lessons with the girls that she encouraged them to start focusing on now and throughout the rest of your life. Here are her four essential tips for the girls:

“Bring your best self everyday to the work you do. How you show up and the attitude you have is important your entire life”

“Be a life-long learner. Read as much as you can and retain that information you learn in school, don’t just throw it away”

“Learn how to write and how to write well. I am amazed at how few adults can write coherently. There is nothing that says more about you than the way you communicate”

“Always wear sunscreen”

After Lori’s motivational presentation, the LiveGirls were brought back into the NCHS Gym for the Explore Fair. The Explore Fair brought together local professionals in a variety of industries, to educate the girls about potential career paths and job opportunities that are out in the world. There were four stations set up, each station with 4-6 professionals for the girls to talk to and answer their questions. The stations included business, STEM, mentoring and human services/creative arts.

Founder and director, Sheri West, created this Explore Fair to inspire the LiveGirls to explore their interests. “We want to expose the girls to as many career possibilities as possible because girls need to see to know what they really want to be,” she said. “We want this to be a launching point for the girls to pursue their interests.”

After the Explore Fair, the LiveGirls had their last lunch from Simply Delicious which was followed by a self defense class with Maurice Johnson, a fitness instructor and personal trainer from Oxygen Fitness. Maurice taught the girls to find the strength in themselves and know that they can be self-reliant when they need to be.

The day closed up with a talent show featuring dances, poems, songs, gymnastics and all the rest. We certainly have a group of energetic and talented girls here at LiveGirl and we cannot wait to see the amazing places they go. The girls celebrated with an ice cream party featuring DJ Jovan who brought out those last bits of energy that the girls kept in store.

See you next year Camp LiveGirl! It was a privilege being able to witness all the amazing things that happen here. Thank you Sheri for making this all possible!

Click on pictures above to view slideshow

Camp LiveGirl Day 4 Blog Post


An Inspiring Morning with Wendy Sloane and A Heartfelt Goodbye to Meg Domino

This morning LiveGirl met Wendy Sloane, a single mother from New Canaan and a radio host of her own show called “What’s Up With Wendy” which has been on the air for almost seven years. Wendy told the campers that her passion for communications and television has been a driving force in her career. Wendy has worked with and interviewed tons of celebrities, authors and athletes like John Stamos from “Full House” and Hope Solo who is a professional soccer goalie.


Wendy explained that she had to be extremely persistent and determined when she was first trying to get jobs after she graduated from college. Wendy graduated from Florida State University with a double major in Journalism and Communications, with a minor in Theatre. Wendy found that her voice and her ability to persuade people with words was a gift when it came to pursuing her passions. Wendy urged the girls to dream big and to never doubt themselves.


Wendy is currently in the process of launching a TV show, while also raising two children and running her radio show. What a rockstar! She truly can do it all. Wendy told the girls about her vision for her TV show, “I want it to be fun and happy, every show has a purpose and a cause attached to it,” she said.


As Wendy wrapped up her inspiring presentation, it was time for the LiveGirls to get into their final session of Leaders-in-Action, which is led by Meg Domino. The topic of her final session was decision making, specifically the temptation of drugs and alcohol. “It is so essential in seventh and eighth grade for our girls to make a personal decision about temptation,” Meg said. “It is so helpful for their parents to support and discuss that decision with them because it is then, when we are not even looking, when our girls get tempted by all kinds of different things. If those girls are not equipped with the skills to act on it correctly, then they can make a poor decision.”


Although these LiveGirls are young, Meg stresses the importance of educating kids before they are faced with the temptation, so that they can make well-informed decisions. “The biggest thing that a lot of kids don’t understand is the reason we have a drinking age is that the liver, which is responsible for detoxifying the body, is not fully grown yet,” Meg said. “The biggest gift that we can give our kids is supporting their drug-free choice into their twenties.”


Meg Domino also informed the girls about the negative effects of marijuana on young people who are experimenting with it. “Another thing that we are seeing a lot of challenges with is marijuana because we are seeing kids with lower rates of concentration, clarity and written acuity when they have had experimentation followed by use,” she said. “Right now, because marijuana is so strong, most experimentation is followed regular use. We need to stand strong as families, parents and as LiveGirl and really be certain that our kids have positive role models.”


Thanks to Meg Domino, our LiveGirls are well-equipped to handle any social situation! Sadly, today was Meg’s last session of the week with the girls, so, a handful of girls gave their words of thanks to her. Here are a handful of kind quotes from our amazing LiveGirls:


“We wanted to thank you and tell you that we appreciate your energy. You continued to inspire us all week”
“Meg is an awesome person to talk to and she will help you with your problems. She helped all of us to come together and communicate”
“We want to thank you for bringing so much positive energy and sharing your gift of brightness with us”
“We would like to thank you for giving us really good advice about our future”
“Thank you for teaching us to love ourselves and valuable lessons for our future”
“Thank you for helping us build self confidence and helping us come together as a team”


We love you Meg! Hope to see you soon!

 

Click on pictures above to view slideshow

Camp LiveGirl Day 3 Blog Post

LiveGirls learn how to persevere from Heidi Sandreuter and how to love their bodies from Meg Domino

This morning, the LiveGirls were introduced to Heidi Sandreuter, a successful businesswoman who has exemplified a strong sense of leadership, morality and courage throughout her career in advertising and marketing.

Heidi was not here to teach the girls about sales tactics, but rather, her goal was to share her story with the girls so that they could learn from her trials and errors as a woman in a corporate world.

Heidi previously worked at Under Armour as the VP of Women’s Marketing from January 2014 to March 2015. According to Heidi, one of the most fulfilling moments with Under Armour was working with Misty Copeland, an African American ballerina who became the first female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. Under Armour made a commercial about Misty in order to launch their “I Will What I Want” campaign, which Heidi loved being apart of.  

Heidi inspired all of the campers to take after Misty Copeland; to persevere and to always believe in your dream. “They don’t know what you’re made of or how hard you can work,” Heidi said. “If it is important to you, you will make it happen.”

Another interesting aspect of Heidi’s presentation was her explanation of why she quit two of her amazing jobs along the way. One example she gave was why she quit her job at Under Armour after about a year and a half. “I didn’t like how people treated each other at the company and I didn’t feel like myself at the company,” she said. Heidi took a brave step by quitting her well-paying job for reasons of immorality. She told the girls that no matter how successful you are, you cannot forget the golden rule that you learn way back in elementary school: treat others the way you want to be treated

As Heidi’s presentation came to a close, it was Meg Domino’s turn to transition into her theme for today’s Leaders-in-Action program - body image. Meg utilized Colbie Caillat’s music video for her song called “Try”, to show the girls that you need to love your body in its truest form. In the video, Colbie takes off her makeup and her hair extensions, to show the world that she will not succumb to the pressure that is constantly put on women to be dolled up 24/7.

With those positive ideas fresh in the LiveGirl’s minds, Meg introduced the next activity which was to create necklaces with charms that represent the girl’s keys to happiness. Each LiveGirl chose four charms and constructed a necklace that would remind them of the love and happiness they should have for themselves everyday. This necklace will be a special way for the girls to remember all the amazing skills that Meg taught them in their Leaders-in-Action programs throughout the week at Camp LiveGirl.

Click on pictures above to view slideshow

Camp LiveGirl Day 2 Blog Post

Camp LiveGirl Meets Bestselling Author Lauren Oliver

The second day of Camp LiveGirl’s 2016 summer session was graced with the presence of New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Oliver. Lauren gave a presentation in the NCHS Auditorium to 100 enthusiastic LiveGirls who were bursting with questions for Lauren by the end of her presentation.   

Lauren dove right into her backstory, explaining to the girls that she grew up in a house full of books which fostered her love of reading as a child. This took Lauren to her first tip of advice to the LiveGirls: read as much as humanly possible! Lauren was also kind enough to give every single camper a copy of her book Curiousity House, to encourage them to fill their free time with books instead of logging onto Instagram.

It was truly inspiring that Lauren was so honest about all of the ‘failed novels’ that she wrote before she published her first book, Before I Fall. However, Lauren emphasized that failure is an essential part of achieving success. This led perfectly into her second tip: do not fear failure! Failure is human, it is essential, Lauren said.

Lauren’s third and final lesson was to write everyday. Create stories, tap into your imagination. She urged the girls to get the ball rolling and to never give up on writing. As an author herself, she explained to the girls that she writes everyday; some is good material, some is not so great. But it is all apart of a larger process that comes with being a novelist.

After Lauren wrapped up her presentation, 20 LiveGirls were able to attend an intimate writing workshop taught by Lauren herself! In the next 45 minutes Lauren taught the girls the basic skills needed to write a novel. Creating a solid plotline was the main focus of this workshop, and this lesson was anchored by Lauren’s ‘golden rule’. The golden rule is a sentence in which the girls were able to fill in the blanks with their story’s main goal, the time frame and the consequence that comes if the goal is not achieved.

Lauren Oliver’s Golden Rule: The Main Character must (Goal or Desire) before (Time Limit or Ticking Clock) or else (Bad Consequence/ ‘Big Bad’)

To make this concept more understandable for the girls, Lauren used plotlines of Disney movies to demonstrate how that golden rule applies to all great stories.

The girls were eager to get their ideas down on paper and when they were asked to share their personalized plots, the LiveGirls’ hands shot up with excitement. Even Lauren was pleasantly surprised by the camper’s overwhelming participation in her workshop.The workshop finished off with Lauren signing the girl’s notebooks and taking photos with her gracious LiveGirl fans.

I was fortunate enough to talk to Lauren one-on-one and I was amazed to hear how much fulfillment Lauren gets from writing for young girls. “One of the greatest pleasures of my job is getting to connect with young people, young girls especially. It is very meaningful to me and I think that all books are a way of trying to communicate and in my case trying to inspire and to give hope to people who sometimes feel like they don’t have a lot of it.

Click on pictures above to view slideshow

Camp LiveGirl Day 1 Blog Post

by Emilia Savini (see bio under girls blog)

After weeks of preparation and training, the first day of Camp LiveGirl’s second summer camp has finally arrived. Fresh-faced campers from all over Fairfield County poured out of cars and busses and scampered into the NCHS Gym. Campers were given their LiveGirl t-shirts and team assignments, both of which were carefully customized by the LiveGirl staff, with Sheri West at the helm.

Founder Sheri West began by introducing the LiveGirl motto, "I am smart. I am strong. I am special." She then welcomed Lytasha Marie Blackwell, who read her amazing poem “Girl Magic” to inspire the campers and set a positive tone for the week.

Next up was the Executive Director of New Canaan CARES, Meg Domino, who immediately engaged the girls in a conversation about what makes a good team. Meg followed up the discussion with three team building activities that touched upon each learning preference -  auditory, kinesthetic and visual.

For Brianna Lizano Quesada, a rising seventh grader from Norwalk, the “Human Knot” game was her favorite of the morning. This game required the girls to tangle up their arms and then use their communication skills to facilitate the untangling process. “I found it really satisfying to work together to achieve something that seemed impossible at first,” Brianna said.

After multiple team-based activities, the girls took a break for lunch, which was catered by Simply Delicious.

With their batteries recharged, the girls were then introduced to the LiveGirl Olympics. Each team created posters and team names earlier in the day, and now it was time to for each team to parade with their poster during the opening ceremonies.

The LiveGirl Olympics consisted of six activities; three indoor and three outdoor. The games ranged from handball to an architectural game in which the girls built the tallest possible structure they could with recyclable materials. Thanks to Mike Patrona, a beloved fifth grade teacher and assistant coach for New Canaan Girls Basketball, the games ran smoothly.

After the LiveGirls enjoyed some well-deserved popsicles, Kari Johns from Oxygen Fitness and DJ Jovan led a dance party to finish off the day on a high note.

Looking back on how day one went, Meg Domino praised Sheri West’s effort to focus on unity from the very start of camp. “I think something that we did a little bit differently year two compared to year one, was focusing on unity from the very start and I hear the girls talking about it too, which is great,” Meg Domino said.  

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