Shine On! empowers young girls with free workshops

My husband and I are the parents that limited “screen time” for our children. We had numerous conversations about Internet safety. We read books and talked with friends. Some elements we discussed resonated, but a lot of what we said seemed to be filed away in a seldom used section of my child’s brain labeled “Parental Lectures.”

Finding an opportunity to have someone else support our safety concerns was a such a relief. Kids are bombarded by negativity on computers, on their phones, in ads, on television shows and that can be without ever leaving the house. How do we present a positive message that isn’t in the form of another lecture?

Shine On! was founded in 2011 by SUNY Plattsburgh Professor Colleen Lemza with just those questions in mind. After encountering young women struggling with self-esteem issues driven by a negative media impact, Lemza wanted to raise awareness, communication skills and confidence. This evolved to an annual day-long conference for fourth and fifth grade girls led by student mentors.

Shine On! has grown from a one-day workshop with 90 young girls to an overnight conference for over 200 participants. The spring conference has expanded to include girls in third through fifth grades. The overwhelming response now has Shine On! also offering parent workshops, educational outreach, and college scholarships.

My daughter attended the overnight conference and overtime I’ve attended most of the parent workshops. The goal of the conferences and workshops are for parents and young girls to make better choices through three themes: Communication Skills, Character Strengths, and Media Literacy. The setting blends communication and nutrition with self-defense and team building while utilizing fun activities such as the SUNY Plattsburgh swimming pool and rock climbing wall.

Children share information instantaneously now and I’ve always known that shielding my children isn’t always the best way. Having the chance to place my child in a room where student mentors share their own stories helped make an impact. I want to make sure that my daughter has enough information to make good choices when, not if, a situation arises.

Registration for the free overnight workshop opens on February 9 with the overnight conference taking place April 6-7, 2019. Preregistration is required as space is limited. For more information go to www.Shineongirl.org.

It is a tricky world to maneuver our children through this media-driven world. It is a relief to find resources such as Shine On! to help make sure we are on the right path. In addition to the parent workshops, the program offers free educational outreach programs for schools.

Diane Chase is the author of the “Adirondack Family Activities” guidebook series, “Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities.”

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