Mercy Medical Center Mission Outreach recently held a Well Women Summit for more than 75 young women who attend middle school and the Freshman Academy at McKinley High School in the Canton City School District and their teachers. Presented as a professional learning program, the summit covered topics including self-esteem, positive body image, healthy relationships, and a Q&A panel discussion with speakers and school counselors.
Students received a nutritious lunch before hearing from a variety of speakers, including Stephanie Wheeler, MS, CES, director of employee health and wellness at Mercy; Sarah Croley, OCPSA, prevention educator with Domestic Violence Project; LeShaunte Edwards, counselor at Altitude Academy @ Crenshaw; Candice Thomas, counselor, College and Career Readiness Academy @ Lehman; Diana Kiriakou, counselor, STEAMM Academy @ Hartford; and Isaiah Wyatt, counselor, McKinley High School Main Campus. At the conclusion of the event, each young woman received gifts intended to help them think more about what they had learned.
“For young women, middle school is a critical time of self awareness and personal development, and this program is designed specifically for that age group,” says Sr. Carolyn Capuano, HM, vice president of mission & ministry at Mercy. “We have been told it is such a valuable experience for the girls to travel to an off-site event and to be with other young women from the district in a professional setting. It’s a very comprehensive, experiential learning experience for them.”
According to Croley, females between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rates of dating violence–nearly three times the national average—and dating violence starts as early as 6th grade. She discussed ways young women could build healthy relationships and behaviors, set boundaries, and develop a good “self relationship.” Wheeler shared ways students could tell the difference between body-image myths and facts while cultivating a good perspective of their bodies. Students submitted questions in advance for panelists to answer during the Q&A.
Before the summit, school counselors engage participants in group and individual conversations. In follow-up, counselors continue the conversations, building on questions asked at the conference.
Well Women (#wellwomenstark) is a collaboration between Mercy Mission Outreach and the Canton City School District. Established in 2015, this initiative strives to raise awareness and provide education to middle school females on health issues that impact them. Students are permitted to attend annually, and many who were at the most recent summit have participated for the past three years.
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