THIS YEAR’S CONFERENCE, “SURVIVOR: MIDDLE SCHOOL”, was a resounding success with 50 girls from our area attending the session on Sun. March 9 at the Medina Hospital Conference Center.
Pink survivor T-shirts were distributed as girls checked in. In addition, 12 teen facilitators and 13 adult team members participated and 21 parents joined the Parent-to-Parent session held during the last hour of the program. Christie Becker, of the Ohio State University Extension Office, Diane Dockrill of Solutions Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., and Cindy McQuown, of Cornerstone Wellness Center, served as co-chairs of this year’s event.
The program included a “Survivors’ Panel” of young women who offered thoughts from personal experience on how to get through the challenges of middle school: Tiffany Emerson Kosman, a wife, mom and kindergarten teacher and alumna of the Sister-to-Sister program; Veronica Bagley, a senior at Buckeye H.S. who also has junior status at the University of Akron, and Micalah Yovanovich, a sophomore at Norton H. S.
Two guest presenters highlighted the afternoon’s activities. Kathy Magistri, health and physical education teacher in the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools as well as self-defense instructor in Highland Schools after school classes, holds a 5th Degree Black Belt in Taekwando. She discussed strategies and demonstrated self-defense moves that girls could use to overcome an attacker. Brooklyn Whitmyer, a high school sophomore who is the founder and CEO of a small incorporated business, talked about how she turned around a crisis in her life to motivate herself to help others in need. For her business, Brooklyn’s Bridge of Love, she makes and sells chocolate covered pretzels with the profits going to people in our area who need an extra helping hand. The girls then had the opportunity to dip their own pretzels, fruit and marshmallows in the chocolate fountains provided by the S2S committee.
Chat rooms led by teen facilitators focused on “making and keeping friends,” “time and scheduling,” “finding your style,” and “finding your interests”, topics that encouraged the girls to discuss attitudes and characteristics that were important in succeeding socially and academically. Afterwards, the girls presented skits representing what they learned during the afternoon.
Lunch — with pizza and a yogurt bar, and beverages were provided. In addition to the S2S T-shirt, each girl received a folder with programming materials, and a goodie bag to take home. Snacks and materials were made available through individual contributions from members of the community and sponsoring organizations.
Panelists in the Parent session included Amber McLain and Tia Payne of the Rape Crisis Center, Kathy Magistri and Brooklyn Whitmyer. Pieri Levandovski was the moderator.
Members of the planning committee repesent community organizations that have the well-being of young women in mind: The American Association of University Women, Medina County Branch; Cornerstone Wellness Center; Medina County District Libraries; Medina Hospital; Ohio State University Extension; the Rape Crisis Center of Summit and Medina Counties; Solutions Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., and Zonta Club International of Akron-Barberton-Cuyahoga Falls. Teen facilitators represent Brunswick, Buckeye, Cloverleaf, Highland, Medina and Norton high schools.
Sister-to-Sister is a national dialogue for girls initiated by the AAUW to help understand the concerns of our nation’s young women and how these concerns affect their educational experiences. It provides an opportunity to network with girls from other schools and learn from older role models in a non-threatening atmosphere.
Medina County’s Sister-to-Sister Conference, having completed its 15th session, is one of the longest running programs of its kind in the country and has involved over 700 young women participants.
Click here for photos from this year’s event and past events.