"I am beautiful. I am intelligent. I am empowered. I am strong. I am able. I am powerful. I am blessed. I am amazing." These are the words of affirmation that were repeated over Zoom by 7th grade girls in Loudoun, Fairfax and DC Public Schools to kick off the Washington Football Charitable Foundation's annual ASPIRE Fall Summit.
President/CEO of Sideline Prep and Washington Football In-Game Host GeNienne Samuels, kicked off the Summit by having the girls repeat these powerful words to set the tone of inspiration and education to build confidence in the young women.
Among the panelists joining Samuels was Washington Football Team full-year coaching intern Jennifer King. King told the young woman about her personal experience on how she broke into the male-dominated sports industry.
"You can start reaching out to people who do those jobs," King said. "You never know who might respond back to you and maybe create a mentorship to you so you can ultimately reach those goals. You never know what relationships you're going to build that can help you out in the long run."
Different themes were sprinkled throughout the Summit. Panelists like Kara Pokropksi, Digital Marketing and Creative Director of Citi Open Tennis Tournament, and Kasidee Karsten, Social Media Manager for the NFL Players Association, spoke on how they deal with anxiety and stressful situations related back to being a 7th grade girl.
Later on in the event, Samuels asked the girls what they were most proud of. Several of the girls responded with themselves, which prompted her to move on to the theme of self-love.
"One thing to remember is there is only one you," she said. "You are uniquely designed and created with all of your greatness for a reason and for a purpose ...You should love yourself because there is no other you."
As the middle schoolers and school counselors listened in, some felt comfortable and safe enough to share their personal experiences about what gave them confidence.
"I feel confident when I step on the basketball court because I tell myself we can win, we can do this," one girl said. "And if I'm not doing good I say, 'just try harder and we can do this.'"
The Washington Football Charitable Foundation will host the next ASPIRE Summit in the Spring of 2021 with the same cohort of young ladies.