On a recent gray Saturday, the halls inside Austin High School couldn’t have been brighter and more vibrant. Girls in 3rd-8th grade, alongside their parents, educators, and mentors, gathered on November 5th for the 9th annual We Are Girls Conference, hosted by Girls Empowerment Network (GEN). GEN has been a long-time partner in Dell’s Youth Learning program. It’s a wonderful organization that creates afterschool programs and workshops for young girls and teens. Today, Ami Kane, Development Director for GEN, recaps for us a recent session Dell volunteers sponsored at their annual conference, on a very relevant and important topic – cyberbullying.
More than 2,200 registrants turned out for this special event designed especially for girls. This year’s theme was “Find Your Power.” Featuring skill-building workshops and dynamic presentations, the We Are Girls Conference connects girls to relatable role models and encourages healthy relationships, educational discovery, and creative self-expression.
One such skill-building workshop was run by dedicated volunteers from Dell, through a special partnership with PACERS National Bullying Prevention Center. The workshop was called, You’re Not Alone®: Unite Together Against CYBERBULLYING.
When the workshop began, the facilitator, Wade Magnum, US Small Business Finance Controller for Dell, asked the group of middle school girls, “How many of you have seen or experienced cyberbullying happen?” Every hand in the room went up.
Throughout the rest of the curriculum, the girls and volunteers dug into this serious topic and brainstormed together what to do the next time they see cyberbullying. The girls learned solutions, like:
- Be victim’s friend
- Encourage victim
- Tell trusted adult
- Report post on social media
- Block bully on social media
They also worked to practice empathy for the bully, a skill which would help them identify and prevent potential bullying behaviors in themselves when they are going through a tough time. They reflected on what might cause someone to bully others, like: a tough home life, personal insecurities and trying to fit in, and an unhealthy way of expressing anger.
When asked themselves what they could do, the girls proposed three top solutions to deal with bullying together:
- Don’t give the bully an audience
- Start anti-bullying group at school
- Tell a trusted adult
By the end of the workshop time, the girls all got to make a pledge of a few things that they personally vow to practice to help with bullying prevention. Everyone in the group wrote it on a paper leaf and took turns placing it on the “Unity Tree.” Each girl walked out of the workshop more connected to others, united, and motivated to find their own personal power against bullying—a wish for all girls and shared by GEN, PACERS, and Dell!
Ami Kane is the Development Director at the Girls Empowerment Network (GEN) in Austin, TX, where she first came on staff in 2010. She is originally from the Indianapolis area which is where her passion for girl services began. Prior to GEN, she worked for Girls Incorporated of Greater Indianapolis for many years during which time she completed her bachelor’s degree and later received her master’s in Nonprofit Management.
Since 2011, Ami has had the joy of working alongside Dell and its employee volunteers in the creation and growth of GEN’s tech focused program, GirlConnect. She a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Impact Austin, and the Leadership Austin Emerge class of 2014. She is passionate about helping young women give back and her largest volunteer commitment each year is leading the girls’ giving circle, Girls Giving Grants.