The word of the day was “power” as young women from local middle and high schools converged to celebrate the impact unified and empowered women have on the world.
“You are totally in control of who you are and what you can do,” said Missy Franklin, five-time Olympic gold medal swimmer and keynote speaker for the third annual Shine Summit.
“Please dream big,” she said.
The summit was held at Denver First Church in Cherry Hills Village on March 10. Frankiln’s speech addressed bullying and gossiping, making sacrifices to achieve a dream, and overcoming the pressure a lot of young women feel to be perfect.
She used her recent performance at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, when she failed to qualify for an event she medaled in four years ago, as an example of imperfections leading to greater empowerment.
“I had to make a choice in that moment. I could wallow about this or I could use it to take charge,” said Franklin, a Centennial resident who graduated from Regis Jesuit High School. “As hard as that can be, you all have that power within you.”
Legend High School senior and organizer Steph Norden said Franklin’s willingness to show her vulnerability made the message more meaningful.
“Most of us would think `what do I have in common with her,’” Norden said. “It makes you realize that we’re all similar, and we don’t always realize that.”
More than 350 female students from schools in and around Douglas County attended the event, designed to reinforce the theme that women make the world a better place when they believe in themselves and support each other.
Legend and Regis Jesuit students worked together to line up speakers and presenters on topics including women in the workplace and maintaining healthy relationships.
Staci Batterson, assistant principal and activities director at Legend, said she’s proud of the way the Shine Summit, in its third year,has grown from a schoolwide to a regional event, and she’s inspired by the work speakers and former attendees have done.
“I’ve always been blown away by the power of women when we get together,” Batterson said. “I’m in awe of the impact they’re making in the community.”
Franklin mentioned that the event took place two days after International Women’s Day, to a round of applause. She said the timing amplified the feeling of community and liberation she sensed among the attendees.
“You never know where or when your dream will come true, but believe that it will.” Franklin said. “You guys can make all the difference in the world that you want to if you just believe in your own power.”