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Shine On! Program Named Finalist in National Online Contest

A local program that strives to build resiliency in girls is up to win a $10,000 grant in the AVEENO Be An Active Natural challenge.

SUNY Plattsburgh's Assistant Professor of Public Relations Colleen Lemza and the Shine On! Conference she founded are finalists in the AVEENO competition, which recognizes its contestants and “how they create beautiful change in the world around them.”

Shine On! strives to empower elementary school girls, inspiring them to be strong and confident. The goal is to increase their resiliency so they’re better equipped to handle the pressures of adolescence and beyond without succumbing to destructive mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and worse. This year will be the third year for the conference, which will take place in April on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus.

The contest begins at midnight on Sunday and runs through the following week. It allows the public to vote on the most worthy recipient via the company's Facebook page: Facebook.com/aveeno. Shine On! is one of just two programs that made the contest's final round.

"Colleen is a professor, wife, mother and advocate to make girls strong,” wrote Justine Almeraris, the SUNY Plattsburgh student who entered Lemza and Shine On! into the contest. “She has such passion and optimism for this program, along with all the other people involved. This is my third year being involved in Shine On!, and it is the  most rewarding opportunity.

“I speak on behalf of the Shine On! committee when I say we are truly honored to be considered a finalist. We're really excited to be one of two finalists and hope to get all the support we can get from the school and the community!"

Morgan Polhemus was a 10-year-old Momot Elementary School fifth grader when she attended the program last year.

“We learned that beauty isn’t just on the outside,” Polhemus said. “We learned that we shouldn’t pay attention to endorsements that say you’ll look better if you do this or buy that, or you’ll be more popular if you do something in a certain way.”

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