Inspiring "the next generation of awesome women"

Polly Crook and Jo Watkins - HOW People project founders

On International Women's Day we take a look at two local mums' vision to inspire girls

Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook... probably at no point in history have young women and girls had to deal with living their lives in the glare of social media, whilst being bombarded with endless images of supposedly 'perfect' faces, bodies or lives.

Coupled with increased competition to perform at school or college, Swansea mums Dr Jo Watkins and Polly Crook felt something was needed to nurture the "next generation of awesome women".

They got their heads together and came up with the HOW People project which will be piloted in the Mumbles area this spring, and its hoped it will be rolled out across Swansea.

Medic, businesswoman and mother-of-four Jo explained the thinking behind the project, which stands for Happiness, Opportunities and Well-being:

"There's huge social media pressures, pressures to keep up and look a certain way, and we felt it was time for us to get together with lots of other fantastic women who live locally and further afield, to try to give them a network really of mentors and people to help inspire them."

Jo also has two boys and understands they face similar pressures. But she said they have different outlets at a key age:

"Its feels like maybe we've lost outlets for young women. When they go off to senior school there's a drop off in sporting activities particularly. That is around the same time they are getting phones and having access to Instagram and other social media."

The pilot project will be targeted at the younger age-group, from 10 to 11 years-old and will involve special after school sessions with a range of freelancers, from yoga teachers and beach club fitness, to artists.

It will be followed by HOW Inspire for girls between 12 and 15 years old. That's set to be an App with inspirational content, information on different career paths, online workshops, webinars, well-being information and videos such as mindfulness to help them through school and exam stress and anxiety. There will also be some live events. 

HOW Connect is aimed at young women between 16 and 21 and will offer an extensive network of female contacts, role models, mentoring, work experience and business contacts.

Jo said:

"We want to have a network of just great women who are out there promoting what they do and inspiring young people in whatever walk of life."

The project is looking to hear from women with careers and those who run freelance businesses who could get involved with inspiring the next generation of young women. 

The project has a Facebook Group - HOW Mumbles - where you can get in touch, or contact them via our website.



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