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Lakewood Ranch workshop aims to scrub away teen fears

Side of Ranch: Jay Heater

Cheri Christiansen and Bryce Bennett will talk to teenage girls about self-love and confidence during a workshop at Four Pillars in Lakewood Ranch.
Cheri Christiansen and Bryce Bennett will talk to teenage girls about self-love and confidence during a workshop at Four Pillars in Lakewood Ranch.
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I remember the aggravation as I tried to adjust my little girl's grip on her golf club.

"No, you have to move your right hand a little higher on the club, like this."

She would tell me it wasn't right. She knew, of course, because she was 8 and I was her dad.

Jay Heater
Jay Heater

A golf pro walked over, looked at her grip, and told her, "You have to move your right hand a little higher on the club, like this."

She moved her hand.

I'm sure many of you remember such parental moments, or are experiencing them now. It's not so much your child feels he or she knows everything. It's is more they think you don't know anything.

In looking through upcoming events in Lakewood Ranch, I noticed Four Pillars at San Marco Plaza is hosting a workshop June 15 called "Shine from Within." It is designed to "help girls ages 12 to 17 to realize and develop their own unique confidence, self-love and purpose."

I figured Cheri Christiansen, the owner of Four Pillars who will be teaching the workshop, must be putting herself in the golf pro's role, hoping that since she isn't "Mom" to those attending, her nuggets of wisdom will be digested correctly. After all, it must be like teaching a golf shot, telling teenage girls to get a grip on things such as self-confidence, self-image and purpose.

"We're going to be talking about self-love, self-care, confidence and purpose," Christiansen said. "But we also are going to make this a fun experience. It will be all about helping them find themselves as a person."

Christiansen, a certified life coach, has a lot of experience when it comes to talking with teen girls, but she has hedged her bet as well. She signed up 12-year-old Bryce Bennett of Sarasota as the main guest speaker.

She has a soft spot in her heart for Bennett, who already has started her own business, SarasotaSugar, which produces skin products. Like Bennett, Christiansen was entrenched in the business world when she was just 12, doing financial projections and handling inventory and shipping for her mom, Cheri Dougherty, who owned a skin care and cosmetics business in Kansas City.

"My mom would take me to seminars and I learned how to do accounting and sales, and I learned how to be confident with grown-ups," Christiansen said. "I learned how not to be intimidated."

Christiansen and Bennett were joined in the room by Bennett's mom, Alisa Bennett, and I couldn't help notice the recurring theme. Alisa and her husband, Jason, own Bennett Contracting of Bradenton. I was surrounded by entrepreneurs.

The secret to easy teen living? Start a business.

Although that isn't a viable option in many cases, it certainly did help Bryce Bennett.

"When I was in third grade, mom and I wanted to give my teacher something special," said Bryce, who attended Bay Haven School of Basics Plus in Sarasota. "We made a citrus-scented sugar scrub."

Alisa Bennett wanted to make sure people know that it wasn't like dad carving out the Pinewood Derby car and the son etching him name into it. "I don't make anything crafty," Alisa said. "It was her idea to add the fresh fruit."

Her third-grade teacher was so thrilled, Bryce continued making skin scrubs. She has now sold hundreds of jars of her product.

The morale of the story isn't that girls can solve their problems by starting a business. Instead, Bryce wants to tell them they can be successful at anything they embrace.

"Being in business taught me how to be independent," said Bryce, who has gone through the Sarasota Young Entrepreneurs Academy. "It taught me how to cope with things."

Christiansen added, "The more success you have, the more confidence you gain."

It still doesn't cure all teen woes, as Bryce confirms. She clashes with her mom about clothing choices and she worries about her math classes and how people would perceive her when she lost her two maxillary canine teeth.

"I worry about whether this person likes me," Bryce said. "And the way people see me."

The workshop isn't a cure-all either, but Christiansen said it can point the teen girls in the right direction. "We want them to ask, 'What could I do?' They can volunteer in things, they can get involved. They can make a difference."

Bryce adds, "If you stay dedicated, great things will come out, no matter if you fail."

Those interested in the workshop, which costs $20, can call 373-3955.

If I had such a workshop years ago, I could have been a perfect parent.

Now I am the one who needs to get a grip.