Each girl can know she's a star

Published February 16, 2007

Young girls often dream of the celebrity lifestyle, their names in stars along the sidewalk, a glamorous stroll along the red carpet, paparazzi snapping pictures.

On Feb. 24, the Ophelia Project - Tampa Bay will roll out the red carpet for the fourth annual conference, "Girls Guide to Life: Setting the Stage for Tomorrow's Leading Ladies." The Ophelia Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of young women. This conference is open to girls in fifth through seventh grades. Every participant will have her name put on a star. Volunteers will act as paparazzi.

Ophelia staffers chose this age group because "this is the height of their social experience, so it's a great time to grab them and guide them through life," said Nicole Stokes, girls program specialist. The celebrity theme is designed to grab their attention.

Each girl will choose three of 15 workshops being offered. The workshops were designed and will be led by members of the Ophelia Project - Tampa Bay's Young Women's Leadership Board, a group of women ages 18 to 24 who participate in Ophelia's leadership training program.

Every workshop will focus on different issues affecting a preteen girl's life. Ultimately, the goal is to build self-esteem and encourage a positive body image.

For instance, the workshop "Making the Celebrity: Behind the Scenes" will explain airbrushing and other tricks of the beauty trade, to show girls that the images you see in magazine articles and advertisements aren't always real.

Other workshops are "50 First Dates: A Modern Girls' Guide to Boys" and "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall."

Girls can register that morning between 9:45 and 10 a.m., but Stokes encourages early registration, either by phone through the program's Web site.

Erika Vidal can be reached at evidal@sptimes.com or 813 226-3339.


. if you go

Workshops for girls

The Ophelia Project - Tampa Bay's conference will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 24 at Hyde Park United Methodist Church, at 500 W Platt St. Registration is $15, but scholarships are available. For information call Nicole Stokes at 514-9555, ext. 231, or visit www.opheliatampa.org.