Canada’s largest empowerment event for young girls is set to take place in Toronto for the second year in a row.
On September 23rd, the Westin Prince hotel will become girl power ground zero as athletes, authors, advocates, entrepreneurs, and performers converge for Girl Expo Canada: one full day dedicated to inspiring girls ages 5 to 12.
“In an era when young girls are being bombarded by negative messaging across all media, it is more important than ever to celebrate successful women and provide role models and encouragement for girls during their formative years,” says Allison Cepler, event co-founder.
Cepler and fellow mom Dana Bookman started Girl Expo in 2017 after both became frustrated when trying to find inspiration and opportunities that reflected their daughters’ diverse interests. The event was born out of a need to present girls with more opportunities to uncover their talents and develop their passions – all under one roof.
“Science, literature, athletics and the arts are all domains in which women continue to make impressive inroads,” says Cepler. “We created this event to show girls, from a young age, that they have the potential to do anything, as long as they try.”
What’s Really Behind the Need for Girl Expo Canada?
According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF) in its Facts About Girls in Canada, there is reason to be concerned about the messages our girls are receiving and its effect on their overall health and well being. The CWF’s research states:
- Only 36% of girls in grade six say they’re self-confident, and that number drops to 14% in grade 10
- Canadian girls are 15 times more likely to be hospitalized for an eating disorder than males. More than half of female patients hospitalized for eating disorders are girls aged 10-19
- The number of hospitalizations of Canadian girls for self-harm related injuries has more than doubled from 2009-2014. The group that saw the biggest increase was girls aged 14-17
- In Canada, suicide remains the third-leading cause of death for girls aged 10-14 and the second-leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19
While the pressure to perform and pop culture influences have been around forever, the CWF notes that family obligations, school stress, peer pressure, media stereotypes and “the widespread sexualization of girls in our society” are all exacerbated by the growing influence of social media, something previous generations didn’t have to deal with.
Providing girls with alternative narratives and the tools to write their own stories might be an important step forward in raising a generation that is stronger and more empowered than the ones before it.
About the Event
Girl Expo Canada runs from 10 am to 5 pm and includes more than 40 exhibits, hands-on activities and presentations with the sole objective of inspiring girls to aim higher. From rocket launching to art workshops to interactive sessions on social advocacy, all activities are designed to spark young girls’ imaginations and encourage them to maximize their potential. Highlights include:
- Workshops by the Dove Self-Esteem Project
- Programming with Code Mobile
- Ivivva yoga class
- Performances by Front & Centre Dance
- Fashion shows and shopping
- Crafts with Maplelea Canadian Girl Dolls
- Live author readings
- Make Your Own Pasta with Rooks to Cooks
- The LEGO Friends “Clubs with Heart Tour” truck
Tickets for Girl Expo Canada are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. A family four-pack is $35 online. Children under 2 are free and parking is free on-site.