Thursday, June 17, 2010

Article in LDS Living Magazine

New Young Women’s Conference Teaches Confidence and Values

Jena Peterson - LDS Living Back to Headlines
MESA, Ariz. — Debbie Forrest woke up at 2 a.m. last Saturday morning to go through 60 e-mails from mothers around the West.
“They just had a few last minute questions about the conference,” Debbie said, with her ever-present smile. She spent the rest of the morning polishing preparations to train 21 college-age women to be counselors for a group of 250 young women who arrived yesterday at the Hilton in Mesa, Arizona.

Debbie and co-founder Carla Jorgensen have been planning this conference, Time to Blossom, for over a year, having hatched the idea while on their way to a stake girls camp. The conference is taking place this week, and runs through Saturday, June 19.

“There is such a need to strengthen these young women before they get to high school,” Debbie said. “This age group is so important. They are our future leaders and have the potential to be powerful influences for good beginning right now.”

The conference was organized to reach young women who weren’t yet old enough for EFY, but who could still benefit from interactions with other women of faith and virtue.

“The counselors of these conferences are really the ones who make the experience amazing for the girls,” said Forrest. “We prayed for months and months that we would be able to find women who would be wonderful role models for these young girls.” Most of the counselors are returned missionaries or came highly recommended from their leaders.

Rachel Christensen, an 11th grade English teacher at Red Mountain High School in Mesa, found out about the conference from her bishop’s wife. “I am really excited to get a chance to work with the girls and see what a difference this makes in their growing testimonies,” Rachel said. “As a high school teacher, I see the lack of self-confidence and recognition of their divine worth. The consequences can be devastating and I know this can be a blessing for these girls. I’m planning on taking some principles – things like ‘looking for the good’ – back to the classroom.”

The planning was just as thoughtful and extensive, from coordinating a hotel that would accommodate each need, to a schedule that would entertain and uplift 250 girls with various personalities.

“We knew we needed some engaging and inspiring speakers, and activities that would give the girls the opportunity to build up their confidence,” said Debbie. “We want these girls to walk out of here knowing they are absolutely beautiful, unique daughters of God, and to have the strength to make decisions that reflect that knowledge.”

The conference will run for one week this summer and will continue in years to come, with Arizona serving as the program’s home base. Washington, California and Massachusetts have already requested the program for summer 2010.

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