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Former Track Star Marion Jones to Speak at ODU Conference for Girls and Young Women

She was once the fastest woman on the planet, and lost everything.

But Marion Jones has regained her sense of self, and moved forward with her life. Now a published author and motivational speaker, Jones will deliver the keynote address at the 4th Annual Hampton Roads Conference for Girls and Young Women at Old Dominion University on Saturday, June 2.

Sponsored by ODU's Community Development Corporation (ODU CDC), the conference is designed to educate and empower young women to become productive citizens. During the 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. conference, participants will gather in ODU's Webb Center to attend workshops and hands-on activities that build leadership skills, facilitate career development, and promote active and healthy lifestyles and self-esteem.

The theme of this year's conference is "Girls Rule the World," which is appropriate, because in athletics, Marion Jones one day did "rule" the world.

In the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Jones won five track and field medals, three gold and two bronze. She was Olympic champion in the 100 meters, a race for whom the winner is known as the "fastest woman on earth."

But allegations of performance-enhancing drug use followed her for years. In 2007, Jones admitted, despite never testing positive, that she had lied to investigators about using performance-enhancing drugs. She served six months in prison, voluntarily returned her Olympic medals, and publicly apologized to her family, friends and fans throughout the world.

Jones wrote a book about the experience, "On the Right Track," which tells her story in an unflinching way. She writes about having committed her life to inspiring others who face life-challenging situations, developing a decision-making system called "Take a Break," which encourages people to stop, think, consider consequences, seek advice and then make a rational, informed and thoughtful choice.

At the Conference for Girls and Young Women, Jones speaks at 9 a.m.

Ann Grandy, executive director of the ODU CDC, said the conference was developed to provide a forum to explore some of the complex and challenging issues facing young women today.

"The workshops are intended to inform and empower girls and young women to become productive citizens and leaders," Grandy said.

"The girls and their parents will be exposed to people, ideas and opportunities that will build leadership skills, facilitate career development, and promote active and healthy lifestyles. Workshops will allow them to engage in thought-provoking activities that will stimulate open and honest conversation. We believe that this kind of experience has been transformative for prior participants."

Events being held as part of the conference include "Diva 2.0," an interactive workshop designed to help participants discover their strengths and future dreams. Also scheduled are workshops in financial literacy, relationship building, bullying and self-image.

For more information about the Hampton Roads Conference for Girls and Young Women or to register, see the conference page at the ODU CDC website, at http://www.odu.edu/ao/cdc/activities/leadershipconf.shtml.

Granted a charter by the State Corporation Commission of Virginia in March 2006, the ODU CDC was created to engage in a variety of activities primarily intended to revitalize the communities, develop the human and physical capital of the neighborhoods, improve the lives of the residents of neighborhoods, and support the community development interests of Old Dominion University.