Festival Celebrates, Empowers Young Girls

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Sage Hill School’s third annual GEMfest (short for Girls Empowerment Movement) will take place on Feb. 29.
— Photo courtesy GEMfest ©

An upcoming event will inspire young girls to “leap into their passions” and educate them (and their parents) about empowerment, self-esteem and independence, officials recently announced.

Sage Hill School’s third annual GEMfest (short for Girls Empowerment Movement) will take place on Feb. 29. Middle school girls in grades 6, 7, and 8 are invited to attend the celebratory conference.

GEMfest features a series of conversations with this year’s special guests and keynote speakers, and various interactive workshops that attendees can choose from, officials wrote in a Jan. 16 press release.

The event will also include an all-new marketplace area featuring local businesses and nonprofit organizations that attendees can visit and shop, as well as a sit-down lunch with approachable high school mentors.

This year, GEMfest welcomes three inspirational women to join its lineup of featured guests, including entrepreneurs like Sophia Amoruso, founder of Girlboss Media and Nasty Gal Clothing, and Gorjana Reidel, founder of gorjana Jewelry.

Kellee Kim, a contestant on CBS’s Survivor season 39 and advocate for empowerment, is this year’s keynote speaker.

Featured workshops, which attendees will have an opportunity to sign-up for in advance upon registering, are planned to include topics such as self-defense, careers in science, public speaking, goal setting, coding and an introduction to bullet journaling.

GEM Co-President Lizzy Chen said they are excited to have female entrepreneurs Amoruso and Gorjana and a wide variety of workshops at the event.

“No matter what a girl is interested in, there will be someone who shares that passion and can connect with her at GEMfest — which is our ultimate goal,” Chen said.

GEMfest is an event that is put on by a Sage Hill service learning groups, a program in which Sage Hill students identify a need in the local or global community and create their own project, or, further the work of an existing organization, Torrey Olins, the school’s director of communications and marketing, explained in a prepared statement.

The GEM group is comprised of seven high school seniors and seven juniors who plan and organize this event on their own with guidance from local professionals, Olins added.

The team also includes three “male allies, who joined this group to learn more about how they can best support their female peers and the women in their lives.,” she said.

Ezugo Ononye, a senior at Sage Hill has been part of the GEM Team the past two years.

“All three of us guys on the GEM team have sisters and mothers who inspire us,” he said in the prepared statement. “We want to do our part to ensure that all women feel supported and empowered to live their best lives, and helping to put on GEMfest is an incredible opportunity to help younger girls get the tools they need to realize their dreams for the future.”

The event epitomizes the goal of Sage Hill’s service learning program, Head of School and an advisor to the GEM group Patricia Merz said in a prepared statement.

“The members have embraced our school’s public purpose objectives by creating an opportunity for personal growth for younger girls from all over Orange County,” she said. “At the same time, by organizing GEMfest, they are developing their own confidence and tools for success, no matter what paths they pursue.”

The event will kick off with an opening session on intention setting with two fireside chats with special guests Amoruso and Reidel.

Immediately following, attendees will have an opportunity to explore the marketplace where they can shop and mingle with local businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Next, attendees will partake in a hands-on workshop (which are selected prior to the event upon registering) while parents and chaperones are invited to attend a special session led by experts on how to help students thrive physically, emotionally, and academically during this period of their lives.

During a lunch break, students will be able to converse with high school mentors just before the final afternoon session begins. This portion of GEMfest will feature a dance performance and message from the keynote speaker.

To conclude the event, the GEM team will share an inspirational message with attendees encourage them to live authentically and be the best versions of themselves.

GEMfest will take place on Sage Hill’s campus, located at 20402 Newport Coast Dr., on Feb. 29 from 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online at gemfestoc.com. Space is limited, and two ticket options are available upon registration, including: $17 tickets for students and $27 tickets for parents.

For more information, about this event, please visit gemfestoc.com.

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