More than 500 Teen Girls and Their Families Attend the First Sisterhood Summit.
On Saturday, September 29th, hundreds of teenage girls came out to Prince George’s Community College to attend the first Sisterhood Summit: A Conversation Among Women and Girls. Joined by their mothers, teachers or other caregivers, more than 500 girls and women participated in the day-long event to be inspired, educated and transformed. Presented by the Office of the State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County, in partnership with United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA), the summit – themed “The Power of U” – brought together a variety of speakers, workshop facilitators, nonprofits and health service professionals to address complex issues confronting young women and teach them how to resolve conflict without violence.
The Sisterhood Summit was conceived by State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks in response to the growing number of violence-related incidents involving teen girls coming before the courts. “There are tragic cases in circuit court on a consistent basis,” Alsobrooks said. “It’s a curious trend that woman are increasingly perpetrators of violence against other women.”
Youth violence issues are not new terrain for United Way NCA. Two years ago, when stories of bullying and related teen suicides were frequently in the news, United Way NCA responded with an innovative youth violence prevention initiative, Way to P.E.A.C.E.; a collaborative approach towards helping young people build self-esteem and learn how to deal with conflict.
The Sisterhood Summit was a logical extension of this work.
“There has to be a community-wide solution to solving some of these problems,” said Bill Hanbury, President and CEO of United Way of the National Capital Area. “Particularly on issues involving young women, where violent behavior really is on the rise.”
In addition to youth services exhibitors including sports teams, faith based organizations, government services and nonprofit mentoring programs, the event also included a health screening component with HIV testing, mental health screenings and education on important health issues.
However, the primary focus of the event was the lineup of workshops for teens and parents. Covering important topics – like raising healthy teens, bullying prevention, forming healthy relationships and conflict resolution – these sessions delved into some difficult but necessary issues.
"I have anger issues,” said one young lady. “I learned that I need to think before I act."
That’s a hard admission, and a challenge that goes beyond a one day summit.
The State Attorney’s Office and United Way NCA are committed to continuing the work highlighted at the summit. The goals are to provide sustained and readily available programs and services to teens, lower the incidence of teen violence and help young women get on track – and stay on track – for a brighter future. Specifically, United Way NCA will work with member nonprofits to create more mentoring and youth development opportunities for teens in Prince George’s County, so that lessons learned from the summit can be amplified and multiplied to reach more young people in need.
"I learned I am beautiful,” said a smiling 15 year-old girl. “I have been struggling with self-esteem issues but this session taught me to keep working towards what I'm trying to be."
Read more about United Way NCA’s Youth Violence Prevention work.