YWCA of Olympia’s Winter Summit focuses on science, tech careers

About 75 girls attended the YWCA of Olympia’s Winter Summit on Friday at South Puget Sound Community College.

The daylong event was designed to give middle school-age girls a taste of career fields that involve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as STEM fields) while also giving them a chance to have fun, according to director Hillary Soens.

Nine different workshops were offered, included ones that featured robotics, do-it-yourself lip balm and body lotion, self-defense and salmon dissection.

“My first choice was self-defense,” said Aaliah Amosu, 13, of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “I’ve always wanted to take martial arts and know how to defend myself.”

Chinyelu Iwenofu, 12, of Tumwater, said she enjoyed learning how to make lip balm out of beeswax and coconut oil.

“I thought it woudl be hard to make,” she said. “It was pretty easy.”

The program was offered free to all girls between the ages of 10 and 14. It also brought together participants in the YWCA of Olympia’s three programs geared to middle schoolers: Girls Without Limits, which offers field trips and activities about STEM careers; Girls Circle which is an after-school program at a dozen schools that tackles tough subjects such as body image and self-esteem; and Girls for a Change, an after-school program at seven schools that encourages girls to lead social change in their communities.

The summit was co-sponsored by SPSCC, which provided use of its Natural Science building for free, and paid for with a collection of grants and private donations, Soens said.

The event was kicked off with a keynote speech delivered by Tayler Fluharty, a researcher with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

“I think her message was, ‘Be yourself, and be proud of who you are,’” said Kaylee Lam, 11, of Olympia.