A new event by a local group aimed to teach girls, in particular, useful skills for living a healthy life — which could also protect them from human trafficking.
Z-Club held Girl Empowerment Day on Saturday at Memorial Park Pavilion, and Logan Huckstep — who’s been president of the club for two years — said “Our thinking behind Girl Empowerment Day was if we teach these girls to be empowered and to defend themselves, then they won’t be as easily led into dangerous lifestyles” where they might be exploited.
Z-Club has in the past invited Nanette Ward — a founding member of the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition — to speak to the community, but the group tried a new approach this year.
Ramona Huckstep — Logan’s mom and the club’s adviser — said a check of the proceeds from the event’s registration fees and other fundraising would be presented to Ward at some point, and she hoped it would be worth approximately $800-$900.
Logan credited Z-Club vice-president and secretary Madalynn Berkey as leading the planning for Girl Empowerment Day with Ramona.
Ramona said Z-Club and the event would also be open to boys and gender-fluid youth, but Girl Empowerment Day was geared toward middle school-aged girls, and she said 18 girls were participating.
The activities the girls got to do included learning about a variety of educational topics, self-care and protection strategies, and entrepreneurship including:
Science, technology, engineering and math fields through experiments with Joy Johnson, a NASA ambassador and Mid-Missouri science teacher.
Nature skills with Becky Matney, Runge Nature Center’s assistant manager. That included getting to hold a live, non-venomous black rat snake.
Self-defense moves with Gracie Barra, of Jefferson City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & Self-Defense.
Business marketing and teamwork with Kim Stockstill, of Jefferson City Young Professionals.
Coping skills for anxiety — including through journaling — with Natasha Young, licensed counselor and art therapist.
Cole County Sheriff’s Department officers and Cole County EMS members also took part Saturday, and Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin joined in the activities
Sponsors included Brown Printing, Chick-fil-A, SSM Health, Edward Jones and Hy-Vee.
Girl Empowerment Day was originally planned for April, but then COVID-19 happened.
“The crazy world we’re living in right now postponed it a little bit,” Logan said.
Z-Club is open to all area high school students and meets monthly. Ramona said anyone interested in joining or learning about how to participate in next year’s planned Girl Empowerment Day can contact her at [email protected]