Before I get into a brief recap of last weekend’s YWCA Women in Media panel, I wanted to share one (of the many!) reasons why I love my job as a reporter.
I’m working this weekend, so I was up bright and early to get to three different stories all before noon. First on my list was a movie screening of the new Disney flick Frozen for cancer patients, survivors and their families and caregivers. What an awesome event! It’s sponsored by George’s Night Out, a volunteer organization started by Sue Baldock after her husband George passed away ten years ago at the age of 30 from cancer. The Simcoe couple was living in Denver at the time with their infant son, far from extended family for support, and a foundation in Colorado helped send them to things like restaurants for meals out or the hockey arena for an Avalanche game. Nothing too big or overwhelming – just fun, lowkey and relaxed events – but we all know those are the moments we hold onto and remember, right? It’s the simplest memories that mean the most.
When Sue moved back to Simcoe, she was determined to bring that idea – just spending time with your loved ones while everyone is together – to Norfolk County. One of the many things George’s Night Out does is this annual movie screening. It was packed with people from around Norfolk! The kids were especially excited to have the chance to eat popcorn for breakfast!
After interviewing people there and taking some photos, I then headed to the Salvation Army for their Kids Only Christmas Store. This event lets kids from low-income families buy Christmas presents for their parents and caregivers for just a loonie. Again, what an awesome organization! I watched kids anxiously scour the aisles of donated items (either new, regifted, or gently used) for the perfect present for their mom, dad, or grandparent. Then the volunteers would wrap the gifts up while the kids eagerly waited, pride and anticipation written across their faces.
As one of the volunteers told me, “Kids want to get in on the giving spirit too.” Isn’t that true? A program like this allows them to do so, and takes what can be (and is) a very stressful time financially for many people and turns it into an opportunity for everyone to feel included. I loved this!
My third and final destination for the morning was a book signing with a local author from Long Point. Jan Everett wrote and illustrated a children’s book called “Never Give Up” for her husband’s birthday, inspired by his dedication to helping save turtles crossing from the bay to the marsh on the causeway (this is a HUGE problem in Long Point). Jan and John were delightful, chatty, warm and welcoming, and their passion for the environment is so inspiring.
All in all, it was a Saturday morning that reminded me why I love my job. Like police officers, judges and various other professions, journalists are often called to bear witness to the worst of humanity, but we also get to experience the best of it. The stories about people working to improve our world little by little are the ones we need to focus on when it seems like the media can be full of so much bad news. I’m continually awed by this and I hope that never changes, that I never become jaded about all the good that is around me. Let’s keep getting these stories out!
Now for the Women in Media panel: what a fantastic day! I was so impressed by the YWCA and the planning they did to pull off a terrific National Career Day. There were city councillors, midwives, a police officer, a hair stylist, a boxer, a NASA spacesuit designer, a biologist and more all there to speak with the girls and answer any questions they had. It was fascinating and I particularly enjoyed speaking with the police officer and the midwife. The inventor of the Diva Cup was also there, which was really cool. All fabulous, strong female role models for the girls in attendance.
The media panel I was on was really intimidating at first – I had to answer first so I was very nervous! The other two women on the panel with me was Sophie from 91.5 The Beat in Kitchener-Waterloo and Sasha, a recording artist and Canadian Idol competitor. Both women were funny, wise and frank about challenges they’ve faced in the media and advice they have for young girls wanting to work in the industry.
One question I received that I loved was “who are your female role models?” This is a question we should all ask ourselves regularly, I think. I told the girls it’s important to have role models who are real people you know in your life – that it’s fine to look up to famous people in the public eye (but seriously, let’s have more Malala Yousafzais than Miley Cyruses, please), but to also make sure that some of your heroes are girls and women you know, and to talk to them, ask them questions, be inspired by them. I added that your role models can be all ages and from all backgrounds – they don’t have to look like you, be like you, have the same interests or talents as you. What matters is that they represent qualities you strive for.
My female role models? My mom, first of all, for about a billion reasons but off the top of my head for her strength, vulnerability, selflessness, love of learning and devotion to her principles. My great-grandmothers for their grit, determination, faith and style. My former Russian professor Nazia who became a great friend for her humour, commitment to academics, passion for women’s rights and never-ending curiosity. My cousin Lindsay for her balanced approach to life and healthy self-perception. All traits I want to cultivate in myself – things I struggle with, to be frank, so looking up to these women as role models helps inspire me every day to try and be better.
Anyway, the rest of the panel was hopefully helpful for the girls and I’m excited to continue my involvement with the YWCA. The coordinator of the program and I have been chatting since the event about volunteering with their Media2Me program, so that’s something I’m really looking forward to.
Okay, I better head out for my next event for work – busy Saturday!