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Shine On! Program Wins National Contest

Shine On!, a SUNY Plattsburgh program designed to equip elementary school girls with resiliency, is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the national AVEENO Be An Active Natural challenge.

The competition recognizes its contestants and “how they create beautiful change in the world around them.” It was held through the company’s Facebook page where the public was allowed to vote for the most worthy recipient. Shine On! was one of just two finalists for the November challenge, narrowed down from hundreds of entries.

The preventive program, which will run from Saturday, April 27, to Sunday, April 28, strives to empower elementary school girls to be strong and confident thereby reducing the self-destructive behaviors girls often succumb to during their teenage years.

Assistant Professor of Public Relations Colleen Lemza founded the program after working as an emergency room crisis counselor where she saw an abundance of young women and teen girls battling mental health disorders as a result of low self esteem. Statistics indicate that as many as one in four young girls suffer from anxiety, depression, eating disorders, cutting and other destructive mental health disorders. 

“We need to go beyond bullying prevention to where all girls feel confident inside so they don’t succumb to negativity from peers and the media resulting in eating disorders, dating violence, anxiety and depression and worse,” Lemza said. “This isn’t a bullying prevention program. It’s designed to increase resiliency in girls so they’re better equipped to handle the emotional pressures they will face in middle school, high school and beyond.”

The student-run Shine On! committee plans to use the additional funds to expand upon training for parents and educators throughout the coming year via speakers and webinars open to the public. 

“We are so appreciative of the support we received from the college and community,” said Justine Almeraris, the SUNY Plattsburgh student who entered Lemza and Shine On! into the contest. “Without everyone’s efforts we wouldn’t have won the grant. Thank you to everyone who voted for us!”

In addition to support from SUNY Plattsburgh and AVEENO, Blueshield of Northeastern New York, SUBWAY (at the Cornelia Street, Route 3 and U.S. Avenue and Champlain Centre locations) and the Price Chopper Golub Foundation have signed on as sponsors of the 2013 event.

The third annual Shine On! program will be held in Memorial Hall on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus. The girls program is free and open to girls in 3rd – 6th grades, but only has room for 180 girls. As a result, parents are encouraged to register their children as soon as possible. Registration is open on a first-come, first-served basis until it is full.

Running concurrently to the girls’ Shine On! conference is the Raising Resilient Girls workshop for adults. These three workshops are open to anyone. Attendees do not need to have a daughter in Shine On! to attend. Workshop topics will be “Healthy Eating for Busy Families on the Go,” “Tips for Talking to Your Daughter About Her Body and Boys,” and “Social Media Safety: How to Keep Your Daughter Safe Online. Refreshments will be provided, and all attendees will receive workshop materials including a small, inspirational gift for their daughters.

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