Healthy girls rule at Laguna Beach festival

Ten-year-old Kalle Copeland didn't understand why he had to join his mother and sister at Sunday's second annual Healthy Girl Festival in Laguna Beach.

"'I'm a boy,'" he said to his mother, Sarah Copeland. "'Why do I have to go?'"

The festival, which raises awareness about the social pressure women and girls face in today's society, was a good reference for not just her daughter, Katrina, but her son as well, Sarah Copeland said.

Copeland said she wanted the festival to encourage her daughter to lead a healthy, positive and successful life and to teach her son about the importance of supporting healthy girls and women.

More than 600 people attended this year's Healthy Girl Festival, which was held at the Festival of Arts grounds in Laguna Canyon and organized by Soroptimist International of Laguna Beach.

Maggie Hempen, the festival's director of communication and outreach, said the event is like the spoonful of sugar with the medicine. It's a place where girls can gather and talk about serious issues while also having fun.

"We want girls to make healthy choices, stay in school and get an education," she said.

The event's theme, "educating girls to change the world," was inspired by the story of Afghan school girl Malala Yousafzai, according to the Healthy Girl website. Yousafzai is a 16-year-old Pakistani education activist who survived a gunshot wound to her head in an attack by Taliban members who didn't think girls should be getting an education.

The event was filled with activities from dancing and theater performances to arts and crafts and a screening of "Girl Rising," a feature film about the strength of the human spirit and education's power to transform societies, according to the festival's website.

Among those who attended was Laguna Beach City Councilman Steve Dicterow, who took part in the festivities by dancing on stage with a group of girls and women.

Dicterow said Laguna Beach is the perfect city for such a festival and that its message is needed "because striving for freedom and equality is eternal. Even if you think you achieved it, it could be taken so easily."

Kalle ended up enjoying the day, taking part in the activities and dancing to high-energy music.



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