This content is a paid product endorsement for the NFL and in collaboration with DiMe Media. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
** Watch video below where USA Gymnasts advice girls to “Fight for what you want!” **
We had the wonderful opportunity to join 250+ teen girls from Houston-area schools for the NFL Women’s Summit held at Super Bowl LI. It was a beautiful experience to see so many young women from diverse backgrounds come together for a day of uplifting and bonding with one another.
The NFL Women’s Summit is an interactive experience for young women to discuss how to achieve goals, prepare for challenges, and utilize tools critical for personal and professional development.
The two-day summit (which was also live-streamed online via MAKERS, and NFLWomensSummit.com), offered the opportunity for teen girls to hear from a variety of inspiring speakers, learn new career ideas, and understand the tools for success, as well as fostering important discussions surrounding career paths, mentorship, and finding your voice.
You’re Never Too Old to Have a Mentor
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell welcomed attendees while discussing the importance of mentors.
He told the audience, “It’s critically important to find a group of diverse people who will support you but won’t tell you what to do…that’s for you to figure out”. He also noted, “I still have mentors, younger and older, who can provide a different perspective.” This remained an important message throughout the day, with various speakers speaking about the important role that mentors had played in their lives.
The Women Summit also featured other young women panelists and guest speakers, where it was evident that the attending teen girls got specially inspired by them. Teen girls including 16yr-old singer, actress, dancer, and model Jordyn Jones, twin singers Chloe X Halle Bailey (whom are lucky enough to be mentored by none other than Beyonce), and “NFL PLAY 60 Super Kid” Sophie Schneider shared their stories of what fearlessly going towards your dreams looks like at a young age.
When young girls see other women (as diverse as they are) that are close to their age, they can relate and see themselves through them….and get the sense that “if she did it, I can ALSO do it.”
You’re Never Too Young to Change the World
The Take Action: Impact + Social Change Starting Now panel included Hannah Alper, Maya Penn and Erin Schrode who are wonderful role models for young girls. They eloquently shared about how you can make a positive impact regardless of your age while sharing their own personal stories.
Eco-activist Hannah Alper, who’s also a blogger at Call Me Hannah, kicked off the panel by telling attendees, “You’re never too young to change the world!”. During the panel, she addressed some of the prejudice that she faced because she was so young, and how she overcame it by staying focused and learning as much as she could about topics she was passionate about.
Attendees also shared about criticism they encountered along the way. Hannah said, “When you’re on journey of change making you’re going to get negative comments. Just keep going!” She also spoke about how today’s generation has a great advantage with social media, “Social media is the most powerful and positive tool we can use to change the world!”
Maya Penn, a 16-year-old CEO, designer and activist and founder of Maya’s Ideas, talked about how she wanted to do something that would make a positive impact on the world. She said, “It’s so important to use your gifts to do something that inspires others”. She also talked about how when you’re making a difference, there will always be people who will be critical, “When you follow your passion, you’ll always have naysayers”.
Erin Schrode, a 25-year-old next generation social entrepreneur, environmental and human rights activist, Democratic Party Congressional candidate and co-founder of Turning Green shared how she found her passion when her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
That experience followed by lots of research led her to become an activist for environmental causes, but there were many roadblocks along the way. She said, “Change comes from continuous struggle; keep failing and getting back up!”. She also reminded attendees that, “Using social to raise awareness about a cause is great but you have to do the work too!”
Making Mistakes is Good
In the Career Showcase: Anything is Possible panel, a group of diverse and accomplished engineers, and an astronaut talked about the importance of letting yourself make mistakes, learn from them and (quickly) get back on track. The idea of dwelling on mistakes – or not trying at all due to fear of “blowing it up” – were two big lessons that the accomplished panel shared with the teen girls.
“I think of the hard days as the best days, you have to push through the bad to get to the good. There’s a lot to be learned from making mistakes!” – said Tracy Caldwell Dyson, chemist and NASA astronaut.
The idea that making mistakes is actually a good thing stems from the fact that through mistakes we build character, resilience, compassion for ourselves and push even ourselves even further next time.
At the end, are the challenging moments that make us stronger and invites us to search deep in ourselves to reach our highest potential. So yes….making mistakes (and recoving from them) IS one of the keys for playing BIG in life!
It was just a great day, full of learning and fun, but most of all a day of sharing the joy, passion, fun, and excitement of playing the game for the sake of play.
You can watch recap videos, read speaker bios and event photos visiting: nfl.com/womenssummit and join the conversation at #NFLWomensSummit and #NosUne.
WATCH USA GYMNASTS ENCOURAGE GIRLS TO PLAY BIG IN LIFE DURING THE NFL WOMEN’S SUMMIT: