Over 500 Attend Young Women's Conference

The Young Women Lead (YWL) conference held October 13 and 14 at Ashland Community and Technical College brought a message of achievement to more than 500 high school girls from 17 high schools in Kentucky and Ohio.

Its good for girls of our generation to be reminded that we have power, said Brianna Gee, a junior at East Carter High School. Were getting tools to apply to life situations, added Laine Morrison, another junior at East Carter High School. Its important to look at our future now and decide how were going to get there.

This was the third year that the conference presented by Toyota Manufacturing North America in partnership with SOAR was offered in Eastern Kentucky.

We need engineers and skilled team members, and we hope to encourage young women to consider their possibilities said Nila Wells, Toyota External Affair Specialist. The conference is a great opportunity for young girls to learn how to better themselves, and ACTC and the community have really embraced this project to help young girls succeed.

The conference is designed to empower and motivate girls to do more than they thought possible. Session topics presented by area businesswomen and leaders included careers, social media, health and safety issues, money management and the college experience.

Not only do the girls have a great time here, they get to think about things they havent thought about before, said Jessica Simmons, a guidance counselor at Elliott County High School. They are learning to become empowered to take control of their own lives.

Keynote speaker Liz Forkin Bohannon talked about her journey from student to owner of Sseko Designs, a fashion company that empowers women in Uganda. Not everything you try will work, but it is important to keep trying, she said while explaining the setbacks she experienced in trying to help young Ugandan women earn money for college.

The conference is even better than I thought it would be, said Cierra Lawrence, a Boyd County High School junior. The people here are very inspiring and enthusiastic about what they do, which makes it even more inspiring.

It is important to tell girls that they can be anything they want to be, because they dont hear that enough, said Ann Perkins, Director of Safe Harbor and YWL Committee member.

ACTC is a perfect venue for the conference, because some young people in this area still think that college is out of their league, Perkins added. The conference encourages them to reach for more, and they are visiting a college that puts higher education within their reach.

Platinum and gold sponsors were John W. Clark Oil Company, Inc., Clarks Pump amp; Shop, 93.1 the Dawg, Big Sandy Superstore, Fannin Automotive Family, Kentucky Farmer's Bank, Kings Daughters Medical Center, Marathon Petroleum Company, Regis Salons, The Social Rip and United Way of Northeast Kentucky. Nineteen additional businesses and individuals gave support at the silver and bronze levels.

It is gratifying to receive so much support from area businesses in encouraging youth achievement, said Dr. Kay Adkins ACTC President amp; CEO. We are partners in this important effort to inspire young girls to take control of their futures.

Participating high schools were Boyd County, Paul G. Blazer, Fairview, Holy Family and Rose Hill Christian from Boyd County; Greenup County, Raceland-Worthington and Russell from Greenup County; East Carter and West Carter from Carter County; Lawrence County; Elliott County; Lewis County; Rowan County; Belfry in Pike County; and Dawson-Bryant and Ironton High School from Lawrence County, Ohio.

Plans are already underway for next years conference, according to Karen Coburn, YWL Committee Chair and ACTCs Director of Workforce Solutions. I think we have become a must-do annual event for area high schools girls, she said