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Empowering Young Girls at the NFL Women’s Summit

Students from Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Houston attend the NFL Women’s Summit

This content is a paid product endorsement for the NFL. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

We had the privilege to join around 250 girls from Houston-area schools for the 2nd NFL Women’s Summit, at Super Bowl 51. It was heartwarming to see so many young women from diverse backgrounds come together for a day of uplifting and inspirational workshops.

We really love that the NFL is committed to giving back to local communities with programs such as the NFL Women’s Summit. The Summit is an interactive experience for young women to discuss how to achieve goals, prepare for challenges, and utilize tools critical for personal and professional development.

The Power of Mentoring

We’ve always believed in the power of mentoring, so we were so grateful to hear NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell share about his own personal experience with mentors during his welcoming remarks. He told the audience, “It’s critically important to find a group of diverse people who will support you but won’t tell you what to do…that’s for you to figure out”. He also noted, “I still have mentors, younger and older, who can provide a different perspective.” This remained an important message throughout the day, with various speakers talking about the important role that mentors had played in their lives.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell welcomes students to the NFL Women’s Summit in Houston

You’re Never Too Young to Change the World

We’ve been to events with amazing speakers over the years, but we were absolutely blown away by the three young speakers on the Take Action: Impact + Social Change Starting Now panel. The panel included Hannah Alper, Maya Penn and Erin Schrode who eloquently shared how you can make a positive impact regardless of your age.

Hannah Alper, a 13-year-old activist, motivational speaker and blogger at Call Me Hannah, kicked off the panel by telling attendees, “You’re never too young to change the world”. During the panel she addressed some of the prejudice that she faced because she was so young, and how she overcame it by staying focused and learning as much as she could about topics that she was passionate about. All attendees talked about criticism they encountered along the way. Hannah said, “When you’re on a journey of change making, you’re going to get negative comments. Just keep going!” She also spoke about how today’s generation has a great advantage with social media, “Social media is the most powerful and positive tool. We can use it to positively change the world!”

Maya Penn, a 16-year-old CEO, designer and activist and founder of Maya’s Ideas, talked about how from a young age she wanted to do something that would make a positive impact on the world. She launched her own company Maya’s Ideas when she was just eight years old, so she’s gained a lot of wisdom over the years and she loves encouraging others to follow their dreams. She said, It’s so important to use your gifts to do something that inspires others”. Maya also talked about how, when you’re making a difference, there will always be people who will be critical. “When you follow your passion, you’ll always have naysayers”.

Erin Schrode, a 25-year-old, next-generation social entrepreneur, environmental and human rights activist, co-founder of Turning Green, and Democratic Party Congressional candidate shared how she found her passion when her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. That experience, followed by lots of research, led her to become an activist for environmental causes, but there were many roadblocks along the way. She said, “Change comes from continuous struggle, keep failing and getting back up!” And she also reminded attendees that, “Using social media to raise awareness about a cause is great, but you have to do the work too!” She closed by sharing one of her favorite quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt that we think is still so relevant for young girls today: “No one can make you feel inferior about yourself without your consent!”

Maya Penn, a 16-year-old CEO, designer, activist and founder of Maya’s Ideas, talked about using your gifts to inspire others

Making Mistakes is Good

It was refreshing to listen to so many accomplished girls and women talk about the obstacles they overcame, and mistakes that they made along the way. We think that this is such an important message to share with girls from a young age, along with encouragement to use those experiences to grow personally and professionally.

Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a chemist and NASA Astronaut, talked about her personal journey and reminded attendees that there are always ups and downs regardless of what you’re doing. She said, “Don’t try to be perfect! There’s a lot to be gained from making mistakes. Everyone who’s been successful in life has stumbled.” She too talked about how important it is to have mentors regardless of what career path you choose. “Most people who have made mistakes want to share what they’ve learned with others, especially when they see that they’re eager to learn.”

Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a chemist and NASA Astronaut, talked about the benefits of making mistakes

Lisa Gelobter, Chief Digital Service Officer with the US Department of Education, talked about the importance of taking risks to help get you to the next level and grow. She said, “Failure is part of the journey.” She added, “Most people who have made mistakes want to share what they’ve learned with others when they see that they’re eager to learn.”

It was a beautiful day filled with inspirational and encouraging words to remind us all to use our collective power to help lift up others.

Elayna Fernandez of The Positive Mom and Angela Sustaita-Ruiz of Hispanicize Media Group

You can learn more about the NFL Women’s Summit at http://www.nfl.com/womenssummit, and join the conversation via the #NFLWomensSummit and #NosUne hashtags.

   

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