SureFire Girls: Life Literacy For Teens in a Power-Packed Conference

Oct. 8, 2013 As the parent of a teen graduating high school, spring was like a surreal montage of college tours, anticipation, excitement and questions swirling in my brain.

Did I give her enough savvy to navigate credit/debit financial literacy, branding and budgeting? Does she have body awareness and boundaries to carve out her own comfort zone in complicated core relationships from dating to roomies?

Will she figure out that interning could help her declare a major better than book smarts? Was she listening when I shared cool campus safety apps like Circle of 6 to get yourself out of a jam with subtle style or was she OVER confident with her “I’ve got this” bravado?

For the first time ever, SureFire a brand new life skills conference for teens has come on the scene, with an action-packed, fun-filled day of speakers and workshops that add hands-on learning to the real world topics they don’t teach in school. NOW they tell me.

Wish I’d had this last year to prep for life transitions, as  it’s all happening Oct 12, 2013 in L.A., at the Santa Monica Art Institute with leaders from inspiring organizations ready to help teens find their path, voice, and glimpse of opportunities ahead, in strong, spirited style that almost shouts, ‘Are you ready? Let’s do this!’

It’s fitting that SureFire Girls is taking an ‘innovate to educate’ approach, since that’s the theme of the U.N. International Day of the Girl taking place the day prior. It not only fills in learning gaps, it gives teens and the parents who love them a compressed capsule of life literacy that will serve them well at any age.

According to SureFire Girls founder Heather Mason, who also runs event planning firm A Caspian Production, this is just the beginning, a pilot project sneak peek conference for a larger event in 2014.

They’re planning on adding a younger teens track called ‘Spitfire Girls’ for tweens and a collegiate version for older girls with ambassadors on campus, and plan on traveling around the country to major cities with snowballed momentum, tapping local leaders and organizations for knowledge sharing and support.

“What if there was a place where you could ask questions about where you’re going in life and how to get there?”

They answer that query with a line-up of superstar speakers and specialists for teens and parents.

From opening keynote entrepreneurs like Lauren Berger, of Intern, and Asha K, millennial media producer, start-up and creator of new platform GirlTalk (profile/interview forthcoming)

…To terrific topics for parents ranging from digital literacy with Randi Zuckerberg of Dot Complicated (related write up by SureFire Girls’ founder Heather Mason on teens navigating tech) and closing keynote speaker Betty DeGeneres (yes, “Ellen’s mom”) on the complexities and joys of mother/daughter relationships, entrepreneurship and success…

SureFire Girls has the energetic appeal to entice both ends of the age spectrum with some serious knowledge dropping.

As a media literacy maven and critical thinking hound, I’m throwing my support behind the conference as a ‘media sponsor’ as I truly believe this is the stuff that gets ‘left out’ of the parenting knapsack, no matter how hard we try to cram it in.

We all know that teens often listen to ‘experts,’ peers, mentors, and sometimes young women simply closer to their own age and life experiences, often saying the exact same thing parents have tried to instill over a lifetime.

I see it in my own work with hands-on games using media and entertainment devices as “M-power” to lift and reveal agendas and give youth those precious ‘aha’ moments when they ‘get it.’

Parents shake their heads and say, “How’d you DO that? I’ve been telling them that forever and NOW they listen to YOU? Whaaa?” As a parent, I realize it feels unfair.

But there’s something about participatory, experiential learning from someone other than dear ol’ mom and dad that can embed deep concepts in critical thinking seeping in sideways as an intellectual shield and a saber to fight the billions of dollars invested in marketing and media messages going after hearts and minds for profit.

In “You can’t make this stuff up” clarity, I strongly feel we need to literally “show and tell” how key players in the beauty industry for example, are strategically and deliberately studying how to mine insecurities down to the time of day women are most vulnerable!

It can be upending. Or it can be education ‘ammo’ to get to girls’ FIRST with education and create an invisible cloak of knowledge and critical thinking. The more life literacy, the better equipped girls are to enter the world with sure-footed wisdom to find their own North Star without the compass going ‘sproing.’

Youth often purport to be über-street savvy on branding, social media technology, even body image, relational aggression and career paths, but at the developmental core, it’s nascent ‘Ancora Imparo—I am still learning.”

SureFire Girls is a salute to that lifelong learning…for teens…for parents…for anyone. So, mind the gap…Better yet, fill it with knowledge. Hope to see you there.

Next up? Stay tuned for profiles on SureFire Girls workshop leaders Asha K and Melanie Klein as we continue “All Things Girl” coverage for this week’s International Day of the Girl. Hope to have our new Shaping updated site launched soon too!

Recent “All Things Girl” Series on Shaping Youth By Amy Jussel

Brave Girls Want to Put Media On A Different Frequency

The Girl Effect is Rising: New “Girl Declaration” Gives Voice to Millennium Development Goals

Brave Girls Want A Movement, Not a Moment

The Girl Effect Goes Global: U.N.’s Second Annual International Day of the Girl

Beyond Merida: Toy Industry Complicity in Marketing Vapid Values

That’s Not Merida, Disney. When You’re Off Target, Be Brave and Fix It

Toward the Stars: New Online Marketplace for Girls to Soar

A Mighty Girl: Healthier Media Messaging With One-Click Convenience

Brave Girls Want: Marissa Mayer to Lead, Not Follow

From the Archives: Shaping Youth’s All Things Girl Series in Honor of International Day of the Girl

LegoFriends: Please Build On Possibility and Brain Plasticity

STEM Toys: Innovate to Educate (Roominate, Little Bits, Goldie Blox and more)

How Will YOU Use Media to Inspire On International Women’s Day?

Twitter: Women2Follow Dedicated to Inspiring Girls (need to add yourself to this list?) 

Wanted: Female Creative Directors to Change the Media Landscape

Empowering Girls Instead of Consuming Them

Day of the Girl: GirlCaught Aims to Dial Down Disrespect

GWLN-Global Leaders for Justice: Using Media for Breakthroughs

GWLN-Mentoring: Masai, Midwives, Mobile Medical: Media That Matters

GWLN-Global Women’s Leadership Network/Young Leaders Worldwide

GWLN Delegate Carrie Ellett on Girls For a Change

The Girl Effect: A World Changing Media Message

Shaping Youth Honors Girls Rights Week

Dear Media, Please Change Your Channel of Influence (TEE party)

Positive Picks/Media & Marketing: Pigtail Pals, Redfining Girly

Backtalking Billboards: The Kite Sisters Take Back Beauty/Respect

Girl Caught! New Moon Girls Slams Sexualization!

Steamed About Sexualization? Healthy Media for Youth Act: Pt1

Healthy Youth Media Act: Can Change Be Legislated? Pt2

Teen Girls: Ready for a Rebel Yell to Spark Change?

Tips From the Trenches: Re-Imagining Youth Activism

Shaping Youth Joins New Moon Girls As Affiliate Partner

A Tee Party Kicks Off All Things Girl Week on Shaping Youth

Veteran’s Day: Women in the Military: MyVetwork

Interview with Girl Mogul Founder Andrea Stein

New Moon Girl Media Relaunches as Digital Community AND Magazine

S.Y.’s Body Image Expert Dr. Robyn Silverman On Dove Forum

Motrin Mamas & Twitter Tirades; Marcom Blunders Redux

Twilight Teens, GirlChild Press, +Read Kiddo, Read!

Fem 2.0: Feminine Feminism

GLTR Girls: Girls Learn to Ride (wakeboards etc)

Doctor Jenn Pajama Parties, Neuroscience

What’s On Tweens’ Minds: Meet Denise Restauri of AllyKatzz

Girls Prescription for Self-Worth: Respect Rx

Smart Girls at the Party.TV: SNL’s Amy Poehler

Wise Women & Alice 3.0: Geek Chic For Girls (pt.1)

BrainCake: Teen Girls Talk Tech & Worldchanging (pt.2)

DigiGirlz: Teen Girls Build Community Online & Off (pt.3)

She’s Geeky/Techno Leaders Converge

She’s Geeky/Vlogging with Ryanne Hodson at She’s Geeky

Media Moms, Engineers, Purple Tornadoes At She’s Geeky

She’s Geeky and Proud of It  (My first Shaping Youth geekery)

This Valentine’s Day, Fall Madly In Love…with Yourself!

Rachel Simmons/SY Interview: Curse of the Good Girl

Rosalind Wiseman/SY Interview: YA Kidlit- Boys, Girls/Hazardous Mat

Media Spotlight: Rachel (&SY) Talks to Chicago Trib/Girlpower Gone Wrong

SY-Amy Jussel & RS in Chicago Trib (pdf) Using KidLit Girls’ Bullying Literacy

Reading the Right Message About Bullying (+ huge KidLit Resource List)

Media Musts to Wrap Up All Things Girl Week Part One

Seven Sensational Blogs About Girls: All Things Girl Week Part Two, Finale!


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