Kayla Kroh was bullied for years, but it wasn't until she attended the Young Women's Leadership Conference at York College two years ago that she told someone about it.
On Tuesday, Kayla was back at the seventh annual conference, not as an attendee but as a performer.
The message that the keynote speaker, Kathleen Hassan, spoke to Kayla and hundreds of her peers when she attended the conference in seventh grade made her feel more confident, she said.
"She made me realize that even though it felt like tattling, it wasn't. I really was being bullied," said Kayla, now a freshman at Central York High School.
After telling her parents about the bullying and getting help, Kayla began writing songs about her experiences.
She performed on stage before a Bucky Covington benefit concert last month and said she was excited to share her message with the girls at the conference.
"I want girls to understand they are not alone," Kayla said. "It's OK to be afraid, but it's not OK not to tell someone."
Had it not been for the conference, Kayla said she probably would not have spoken up about being bullied.
"I don't know where I would be today if I hadn't told someone," said Kayla.
Hassan is a national motivational speaker from Florida and has been at the conference for the past five years.
"She tells girls the truth, but she doesn't sugarcoat it," said Kayla.
Hassan shared an interactive message of empowerment to 1,200 seventh graders from 11 school districts in York on Tuesday at the Collegiate Performing Arts Center at York College.
"There is something so incredibly attractive about a confident woman, but I did not always know that," Hassan told the girls before she began sharing stories from her own life.
Hassan covered topics ranging from confidence and body image, to positive thinking and practical advice on how to use social media responsibly.
"The girls really seem to connect with everything," said Dianne Moore, conference coordinator. Moore is the manager of women's health programs at WellSpan, which sponsors the conference.
The event is aimed at seventh-graders, because it is at the ages of 12 and 13 that self-esteem tends to plummet, said Moore.
They are not just faced with puberty but media pressures and now cyber bullying, which has escalated quickly in the years since the conference began, said Moore.
Hassan's message of confidence and empowerment fits perfectly with the seeds they hope to plant in the girls at the conference, Moore said.
Several female members of Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), a club for business majors at York College, gave a presentation about themselves in seventh grade with advice on things they have learned since then. They gave out prizes to random audience members.
For the second year in a row, a conference was held simultaneously for seventh-grade boys at Sovereign Bank Stadium.
Students at both locations were invited to bring canned goods to donate to Access York to fill shelter pantries, said Moore.
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