Teenage girls preparing for college and the start of their adult lives are as accomplished and opportunistic as they come. Sometimes, though, day-to-day skills essential to a successful future aren’t learned in the classroom. The Swain sisters wanted to change that. What began as a series of in-person workshops teaching these life and leadership skills to local school-aged girls has since matured into the “Girls Can” podcast. Following the original material from the lectures created and presented by the Swain sisters — 18-year-old Elizabeth, 16-year-old Brooke, 14-year-old Abigail and 12-year-old Grace — the podcast features accomplished women that encourage and inspire girls of all ages. Past guests on the podcast include Mobilians Devon Walsh, Jabaria Dent and Wellborn, among others.
“I think our overarching goal is to be able to give girls confidence to achieve whatever they want by giving them resources of women that can be an example to them,” says Elizabeth. “It’s making Mobilians who are role models more transparent to other people and lets girls know that if you have a goal, you can reach it because there’s someone on our podcast who has done it.”
A podcast, a digital audible file that can be downloaded and accessed from a computer or mobile device, allows listeners worldwide to tune in for minutes to hours at a time in the car, at home or in the office, keeping up with their favorite stories and speakers. For the Swain sisters, it is a media platform that has the potential to reach more girls than their original workshop format.
“If we were completely rigid and had just focused on doing workshops, I think it would have failed,” says Brooke. “By expanding into a new unknown, I think we have to be open to new ideas.”
The speakers featured on “Girls Can” work in fields that synch with young girls’ interests and aspirations. Medical, media and community professionals have graced the first half of the show’s season. In upcoming episodes, the Swains hope to spotlight women in politics, business, education and the arts industry. Younger women not yet in the workforce are also in the queue following a recent interview with the 2017 Distinguished Young Woman of America, Skye Bork.
“Every girl in our community can bring something to the table,” says Elizabeth.
Conversations and topics of discussion vary by guest, but the format of each “Girls Can” episode is generally consistent. The sisters prepare numerous questions based on their guest’s background and career, and include a few alternatives should the conversation take unexpected turns. One question that listeners will find in each interview is the guest’s favorite book. The Swains are passionate about reading and always learn something new about their guests based on their favorite book.
“People can always surprise you,” Elizabeth says, as little details like a favorite book open up a new personality dimension within most women that they interview.
Brooke agrees. “It’s interesting to hear someone’s perspective that might not be the same as your own.”
The hosts proudly offer their books of choice, too. Elizabeth’s favorite is “Anne of Green Gables,” Abigail enjoys “The Lords of Discipline,” Grace and Brooke are “Harry Potter” fans and Brooke loves “I Am Malala.”
“Girls Can” is sponsored in part by a grant from HERlead, a fellowship program between Vital Voices, Ann Taylor, LOFT and Lou & Grey that teaches and empowers young women through forums, grants and mentorship programs. It is locally produced and recorded by Johnny Gwin and Stacy Wellborn at Deep Fried Studios.
Diverse guests such as Malala Yousafzai, the author and subject of Brooke’s favorite book, are future contenders for the show. The wish list also includes Condoleezza Rice and a HERLead mentor who aids human trafficking victims in Mumbai, India.
“I think the whole premise of “Girls Can” is in its name,” says Brooke. “Girls can be educated, girls can be professionals, girls can be successful. Girls can do anything they put their minds to.”
You can find the “Girls Can” podcast at girlscan.libsyn.com