By Diane Chase
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.
Now in its 5th year, 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 and educational outreach.
My husband and I are the parents that have limited “screen time” for our children. We have had numerous conversations about Internet safety. We’ve read books and talked with friends. We’ve always felt that Internet restrictions are great, but children eventually leave the small bubble where we live.
Children share information instantaneously now and I’ve always known that I can’t shield my children from everything. I want to make sure that that they have enough information to make good choices when, not if, a situation arises.
On Wednesday, February 25, Shine On! will host the first of its free monthly seminars focusing on How to raise resilient girls. Media and Marketing 101, presented by SUNY Plattsburgh Adjunct Professor Jada Secone and Adjunct Lecturer Butterfly Blaise, will focus on how media can twist a child’s self-image. The March 24 workshop with counselor Britt McDowell and fourth grade teacher Michelle Gottschall will focus on making mistakes, trial and error and how smart parenting leads to successful children. Labeled How to Raise a Gritty Girl, this workshop will explore how failure produces growth. The last workshop, Social Media Smarts forthe Connected Kid, will help parents provide tips on social media safety and online safety. All parent workshops are free and held at The Champlain Wine Company, Plattsburgh from 6-7:30 pm.
This year’s annual overnight conference takes place April 25-26 and is open to girls in third to fifth grades. Preregistration is required as space is limited. The overnight conference is free due to the generosity of sponsors.
Though many of the committee roles are currently only open to
SUNY Plattsburgh students as course credit such as student mentors and educational outreach, there are volunteer opportunities for people to wishing to get involved. Also if a child is in 6th grade and has attended two conferences, he/she could become a junior mentor.
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.