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End-of-school roundup

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The countdown has begun! As you gear up for finals, graduation, and summer fun, here's a look back at our posts for the past two years on making the most out of your summer!

On Getting Through the End of School

On Making the Most of Summer

Don't forget to check out some of our favorite camps this summer! Girls Rock Austin and Creative Action have some of the best opportunities for teen girls that we've seen. Good luck as you approach finals! Remember, summer fun is just around the corner...

smart girls in austin!

Smart Girls MantraWe've mentionedAmy Poehler's Smart Girlsbefore (and are lucky to have one of the creators, Meredith Walker, right here in Austin), and this year they've teamed up with Creative Action to offer a summer program unlike any other!

The Smart Girls Youtube channel offers Ask Amy video chats addressing teen issues like body image, identity, friendship and more. The Smart Girls website has tons of resources and blogs by and for tween and teen girls. Their mission? To encourage girls to be themselves. Now that's a message we can get behind!

The summer program takes place June 16-27 at St. Andrew's Episcopal School. The cost is $495, but scholarships are available for up to 15 girls! The collaboration with Creative Action is a match made in heaven, as this local nonprofit has been encouraging girls and boys for years to celebrate creativity and why being different is a good thing.

This camp will immerse girls in multimedia art projects, introduce them to women leaders in many different fields, and help them tap into what makes them unique! If we could go back to high school for the summer, you would definitely find us there. Sign up today!

SXSW and Spring Break

Spring Break!?!?! Okay, though the weather might not be indicating any signs of Spring in our future, we still get a break from school next week (thank goodness!). SXSW also offers popular events during this time, and there are many tween and teens appropriate activities that we want to bring to your attention...along with other Austin fun! 

The annual kite festival was rained out last Sunday so it is on for THIS Sunday (March 9th) at Zilker Park. Bring a picnic blanket, kite and friends to hopefully enjoy some sunshine and warmth! (Did you know that this festival has been going on since 1929?!?!)

Next on the list is a free SXSW workshop for young girls! This AWESOME workshop is co-presented by Amy Poehler's Smart Girls and Austin Bat Cave. It is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring journalists!

Moms and Dads may be interested in the documentary film 'Beginning With the End'. The film follows a group of diverse teenage girls who receive training to work as volunteers in hospice, caring and aiding the dying elderly.

Livemom.com also offers a list of Spring Break camps and activities offered to a wide variety of ages! We give two thumbs up to GenAustin's We Are Girls Spring Break Camp!

Whatever you do this Spring Break, be sure to enjoy your time and find moments of RELAXATION! Don't feel the need to fill every minute with something to do...sometimes the greatest thing to do is NOTHING!

love is respect

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In honor of Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month, we'd like to spotlight an organization that is spreading the message of how to have healthy relationships to teens across the country: Love Is Respect. For parents, it can be so hard to know how to talk to your daughter about safety in relationships. It can be even more terrifying to imagine that your daughter might be in an unsafe relationship. 

Most teens are just beginning to figure out what it means to be in a relationship and what they are looking for in a boyfriend or girlfriend. This can mean blurred boundaries, confusing emotions, and unpredictable behavior. Helping your daughter learn about how to set clear boundaries, and how to establish a sense of autonomy and safety in her relationships is a critical part of helping her enter into safe and healthy relationships.

Incorporating conversations about respect in relationships into your everyday conversations can be one way to keep a light shining on this important issue. Using entrypoints from television shows, music and pop culture to open up a dialogue about boundaries, respect and healthy relationships (without veering into the dreaded lecture zone) can help normalize questions about relationships and ensure that you and your daughter can explore these issues safely. When you feel yourself going into lecture mode, gently remind yourself that it's more effective to get your daughter thinking critically about these complicated issues, even if that means just asking her open-ended questions about what she thinks healthy relationships look like. She's much more likely to open up to you if she knows you're honestly curious about her thoughts and feelings, and that you won't jump right in to telling her what to do.

When you need a little support on how to talk about healthy, safe relationships, look to resources like Love Is Respect and their articles on issues like texting while dating, helping a friend in an unsafe relationship and much more. Join us this month in shining a light on teen dating violence, and help all girls learn how to be safe in their relationships. 

For anyone in Austin who may be experiencing dating violence, visit Expect Respect and SafePlace for assistance. We are here for you, and we are listening.

Journaling with a Twist

Tonight we start our new NORTHWEST High School group! On tonight's agenda will be some fun activities from a book called "Wreck this Journal". It's a fun and innovative way to express yourself and be creative.

Journaling can be an inspirational method for producing positive transformation and a release of feelings. However, it can be a difficult practice to maintain. It can also be emotionally taxing. There are a lot of times that you may avoid journaling because you just don't want to have to go through it all again. Sometimes the best coping skill is the one in which we can find some healthy distraction and relaxation.

We find that journaling doesn't always have to follow the general stereotype of keeping a nice leather-bound notebook and filling it with pages of daily thoughts, feelings and experiences. In fact, for teens this process is rather unrealistic. With all the school work and activities that teens have these days, it is hard for them to keep up with a daily journal. Plus, with facebook, twitter and instagram, the act of sharing one's feelings has drastically changed. Our thoughts and actions are no longer as private as they used to be.

So, how can we still find the benefit of journaling with the time and social constraints that surround us? Journal Prompts are the solution! Wreck this Journal and many other creative journal books provide so many possibilities for sharing your thoughts and feelings. There are a vast number of ways to interpret a journal prompt, so it doesn't limit the journaler. Take the prompt below as an example:

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Teens really benefit from the opportunity to let their imagination be their source of inspiration and self-healing. Teens can also come up with their own journal prompts and share them with other friends or family members. Journaling doesn't have to be just pen and paper - it can be so much more!

spotlight: smart girls group

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Girls today have a lot of online distractions: Instagram, facebook, snapchat, ask.fm. Finding online communities that are positive and inspiring can be a challenge, but here's one that will help teen girls grow into strong, thriving young women!

The Smart Girls Groupis an online community, run by girls, for girls. SGG publishes a monthly digital magazine on politics, culture and girl life. In addition to this, Smart Girls Group has a blog titled Smart Girl’s Loop, where you can find articles on health, empowerment, style,and colleges. The site also contains a Smart Girl’s Sister Hood, an online home for the Smart Girl Sisters that serves as a place for girls to interact virtually with each other in a safe, fun and supportive environment.

The Smart Girls Group is run entirely by girls in high school and college, creating a space unique to teen girls. Teens can become involved through the online classes offered (like on social media savvy),the book club, or through an internship. Above all, a visit to SGG is an inspirational reminder of the amazing things girls are capable of when they work together. No need to wait till adulthood to achieve something special!