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Contest will help empower local girls

— Shine On! inspires girls to be strong and confident.

It empowers them and teaches them that beauty is not just on the outside.

The 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.”

Plattsburgh State Assistant Professor of Public Relations Colleen Lemza founded the Shine On! Conference, which is a finalist in the competition that recognizes contestants and “how they create a beautiful change in the world around them.”

Shine On! works to empower girls and increase their resiliency as they face the pressures of adolescence and beyond. One of the goals is to help them obtain the skills to avoid mental health disorders, anxiety and eating disorders.

The third annual conference will take place in April on Plattsburgh State’s campus.

At the most recent conference, Morgan Polhemus learned models in magazines wear lots of makeup and photos of them are digitally manipulated.

The Momot Elementary School student said she learned beauty isn’t just on the outside.

“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,” Polhemus said.

The conference evolved from an extra-credit practicum created for public relations majors to a credit-bearing, two-semester event-planning class.

It brought in mothers and guardians for part of the conference, as well as Plattsburgh State counseling majors.

This most recent contest allows the public to vote on the most worthy recipient through the company’s Facebook page: Facebook.com/aveeno.

Shine On! is just one of 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 Plattsburgh State student who entered Lemza and Shine On! into the contest. “She has such passion and optimism for this program, along with all of the other people involved. This is my third year being involved in Shine On! and it is the most rewarding opportunity.”

Almeraris hopes the community and college supports Shine On! in the contest.

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