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Diamonds in the Rough of Hot Springs Women's Transitional Ministries will hold its Third Annual Diamonds in the Rough Girls Empowerment Conference from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

The free conference for girls 12-18 years old will be held virtually via Zoom and social media platforms this year.

The conference theme, "Maintaining a Healthy Balance -- Mind, Body, & Soul During a World Pandemic," will focus on the overall impact of the pandemic as well as covering equality, peer pressure, bullying, and drug and alcohol prevention.

"Participants will learn how to navigate and cope during stressful and unusual circumstances. The goal of the conference is to equip the girls with coping skills that will help them maneuver through crisis and uncertainty. Supplying them with the necessary tools and resources to maintain a healthy balance. The conference will give a reminder that guidance and support are always available as they adjust to the 'new norm' and various transitions in life," a news release said.

"The annual conference has proved to be beneficial for the girls each year. This year's conference is especially important due in part to the many effects of COVID-19. In moments of crisis it is vital to reinforce and support a healthy balance -- mind, body and soul," it said.

Session No. 1, "Self Care -- Caring for You," at 10:30 a.m., will be presented by Susie Reynolds Reece, a suicide prevention strategist, speaker and consultant, the founder and executive director of Suicide Prevention Allies, a nonprofit organization geared at preventing and educating around the issue of suicide, and the founder and CEO of Speak Fearlessly Always, a consulting and social issues awareness organization.

Session No. 2, "How are you Coping, Expressing Yourself, and Asking for Help?", at 11 a.m., will be presented by Classie Watson, MS clinical mental health counseling and life and business strategist who works within the family system using her "vast array of skills and educational training in Play Therapy and Child-Parent Relationship Training (CPRT) to work with the family unit." Watson has implemented workshops, empowerment initiatives, and community development projects to "aid in the educational upliftment of lower socioeconomic communities in central Arkansas."

Session No. 3, "Project Prevent -- Prevention, Education, and Leadership," at 11:30 a.m., will be presented by Laura Taylor, Arkansas Children's Hospital program coordinator, who is a certified health education specialist and is currently a student in the College of Public Health at UAMS where she is pursuing a Masters of Public Health degree. Taylor serves as the statewide coordinator for the Project Prevent Youth Coalition with Arkansas Children's Hospital. "She has experience in program development, conference and event planning, grant writing and public speaking on the state and national level," the release said.

The conference is presented by Diamonds In The Rough of Hot Springs in conjunction with Rise Above Alcohol, and Drugs (RAAD), Ouachita Children, Youth, & Family Services Prevention Programs, and Blue & You Foundation.

"Special thanks to Faith Fellowship Church, Suicide Prevention Allies, Arkansas Children's Hospital, Project Prevent, Center for Healing Hearts and Spirits, Smoke Free Hot Springs Coalition, and Webb Community Center," the release said.

Registration is required to participate in the conference. Call Diamonds In The Rough founder Esther Dixon at 501-276-2121 or email [email protected]

Girls who register to participate will receive a free event T-shirt, tote bag, conference resource material, goodie bag and other items. Parents are welcome to sit in on the virtual conference.

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