The topic was Internet safety. But the most shocking aspect of the presentation being given to the group of girls younger than 11 seemed to be the idea that once —gasp! — most people didn't have computers at home.
When Lexington police officer Bige Towery asked the Internet-savvy girls what they used the computer for, they quickly ticked off a long list: Twitter, Facebook, Angry Birds, texting with friends.
That variety of ever-changing Internet options is what prompted Taryn Henderson of Georgetown to bring her daughter to the seminar "The Molding of Generation Divas." The half-day event featured classes for mothers and their tween and teen daughters on health and nutrition, Internet safety, self-esteem and surviving the sometimes treacherous middle school and high school years.
"The things they are exposed to, it seems like they just get bigger and bigger," said Henderson, who brought her daughter, Alyssa, 16, and two other teens to the conference.
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For instance, Henderson didn't know that "sexting" involved sending pictures. She thought it was just sexually charged texting. Now that she understands better what she's dealing with, she can talk about it better with her daughter, she said.
The conference is created by the non-profit Sisters Road to Freedom. Founder Theresa Warrick said she hopes to better prepare moms and daughters to deal with the challenges all young people face. It's important, she said, that the teens receive good information from experts in the field, especially on delicate subjects like self-esteem and the potential for sexually transmitted diseases. Throughout the day, mothers and daughters met separately but gathered for a final overall session. The girls were divided into two age groups: 10 to 13 and 14 to 18.
Speakers included an adolescent psychiatrist, a doctor who specializes in adolescent medicine, a representative from the Lexington Fayette County Health Department, and the Bluegrass Community and Technical College Multi-Cultural Office.
Mercedes Harn, who came with her daughter, Camille, said she has tried to talk to her daughter but thinks another person can get through more effectively.
"Sometimes it's better they listen to someone else. You know, it's like you are no longer cool," she said.
Camille, a sixth-grader at Bryan Station Middle School, said she learned a lot about health and nutrition at the conference.
"Tell her about the sexual part," Mercedes Harn said. Her daughter couldn't help but roll her eyes, but then said she'd learned the importance of using condoms and about avoiding sexually transmitted diseases.
For Mercedes Harn, any help in steering her daughter down the right path is welcome.
"Peer pressure is everywhere," she said.
Alyssa Henderson, a junior at Scott County High School, said she's looking forward to the next session.
"I want to come back. It's fun to be in a class with an actual expert," she said.
As for "molding divas," the girls who attended the conference on June 23 might already have that part down. When Warrick announced that spa treatments and makeup would be given away as door prizes, a chorus of "that's right," "I need that" went up from the group.