2nd annual Montgomery County Girls' Summit welcomes a full-house at Northwood High School

Dozens of young girls in Montgomery County came together Saturday morning to take charge of their physical and mental health.

The MCPS district wide--Girls' Summit was so popular last year that it returned for a second year.

The mostly female event, held just a day after International Women's Day, invited girls in grades sixth through 12th to explore a variety of mental health and self-care issues. 

There were workshops and sessions that covered topics like healthy relationships, dating violence, social media use, healthy eating, body image, self-harm and suicide.

"When we look at the data about girls and the disproportionate impact on their mental health that has really been evolving, that is the unifying factor amongst girls and women. Today is an opportunity to sort of get together and support each other and understand and explore those issues," said Patricia Kapunan, Montgomery County Public Schools Medical Officer.

The first girls summit was held in October 2023 after a CDC report revealed teen girls reported symptoms of depression rates at twice that of their male peers, and increased levels of being victims of violence.

The summit is a community and district wide effort including a collaboration with the Montgomery County police department.

"As a girl dad myself, I have a 7-year-old these are conversations about social media and empowerment and those are super important to me, and I am learning as much from these folks as I am from anything else—safety and security and partnership of the Montgomery County police with the county public schools is super important and events like this really drive that home," said Capt. Jordan Satinsky, Director of Community Engagement, Montgomery County Police Department.

For those in attendance— the message was clear: shine a light on the mental health struggles that girls and teens are experiencing today.

"Learning about social media and being on Facebook is driven by likes and their self-esteem. I want them to learn how to navigate," said Tekia Harris, an MCPS parent.

"I want to learn how to resolve friendship problems, like if you have an argument with a friend and how to resolve it without escalating things," said Tyche Eldridge, an MCPS student.

"Gender issues are huge and girls are coming into their own in this generation and really taking power for themselves, and so I really love that there is something here that can help them," said Heidi Eldridge, MCPS parent.