MCPS offers second Girls’ Summit focusing on mental health

Girls in grades six through 12 can explore a variety of mental health and self-care issues during the March 9 Girls’ Summit sponsored by Montgomery County Public Schools at Northwood High School in Silver Spring.

The free event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the school at 919 University Blvd. West. Workshops and sessions will cover topics including healthy relationships, dating violence, social media use, healthy eating, body image, self-harm and suicide for students and their caregivers. Other activities include gardening and music therapy, and a panel discussion hosted by Fox 5 D.C.’s Ayesha Khan.

The summit will close with a fashion show that focuses on celebrating diverse body types. Workshop sessions will be held in English and Spanish. To register, visit this link.

Next month’s summit comes about five months after MCPS held its first Girls’ Summit at Clarksburg High School in October. According to MCPS officials, more than 1000 girls and caregivers attended that summit and officials say they are expecting a similar number of attendees at the March event.

Dr. Patricia Kapunan, who is the MCPS medical officer, said the summit comes at a critical time when many young women and girls are struggling with mental health issues. She noted that the CDC released data in February 2023 that showed girls in the U.S. experienced suicidality and depression at twice the rate of their male counterparts.

Opening the summit to girls and their caregivers allows for open dialogue and sparked conversations in families during the first summit that may have never happened otherwise, Kapunan said.

“I think there’s so many things in women’s health that are like, what everybody experiences but there haven’t been traditional spaces that are supported that explore women’s health and girls’ health needs,” she said.

Stephanie Iszard, Kapunan’s executive assistant, said that after receiving an overwhelming number of inquiries about when MCPS would hold the next summit, the district decided to host the event in Silver Spring to make it more accessible to students who live in that area of the county.

“Our team is concentrated on making sure that each of the girls has an experience that they can go home with. I hope [they] attend because the energy in that room with the girls was amazing” during the October summit, Iszard said.

YouTube video

YouTube video from Montgomery County Public Schools covering the Oct. 21, 2023 Girls’ Summit.

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