By Jenn Watt
Published Aug. 14 2018
An upcoming two-day workshop aims to equip girls with the skills they need to succeed. AmbiSHEous is being offered in Haliburton on Aug. 21 and 22 to girls between Grade 7 and 12 with the practical tools needed to put ideas into practice.
The program’s founder Katharine Cornfield said the program came about to address the gap between the confidence and potential shown by middle school-aged girls and the real world demographics of leadership in society.
Her website quotes a 2010 survey that found 54 per cent of girls between the ages of eight and 12 believe “nothing would stop them from achieving their dreams.” However leadership in politics and business do not reflect a gender balance.
“The name of the workshop is StartUp Self. And so really what I’m trying to do is get girls a little more familiar and comfortable with the idea of turning ideas into action” Cornfield said in an interview.
That means a focus on topics such as finance business basics political engagement and social change and leadership.
Cornfield has had a career that has included politics policy and small business. She said she’s had to learn skills along the way sometimes with a steep learning curve. It struck her that she could have had an easier time had these skills been imparted earlier in life.
“I stumbled for a while and then I kind of dusted myself off and got up and in the process learned so much but also came to appreciate how valuable an entrepreneurial mindset and skill set can be in any setting” she said.
Therefore her workshops teach entrepreneurial skills but she doesn’t expect the girls who sign up to necessarily be interested in business. The program benefits all girls she said.
“The first thing they walk away with is exercising some courage muscles and discovering their own potential” she said.
They’re also given practical knowledge: “Things like money business and politics that they’re not going to get in school.”
AmbiSHEous has been running for three years. Started as a pilot project in 2015 the program has mostly been offered to girls in urban centres. Haliburton will be the first small town to host workshops.
“I’ve grown up here. I’m fifth generation” said Cornfield who is part of the Heaven family which recently marked 100 years in the Haliburton Highlands.
“I’ve been coming here my whole life and my mother came for her whole life and my grandfather and now my daughter.”
The workshops are being offered at the Haliburton Dance Academy space on Victoria Street in Haliburton on Aug. 21 and 22. Information about fees are available online at www.ambisheous.ca . Sponsorships are also available. The fee includes snacks and a healthy lunch both days.
No previous experience or special skills are required the website says.
“Ambition is welcome.”