GLEN ELLYN – With so-called female role models such as Snooki, Kim Kardashian and Bella Swan from the “Twilight” series prevalent in today’s cultural spotlight, Hadley Junior High School teacher Hillary Shumate was getting a little tired of the examples being set for her female students.
As a teacher in a middle school, Shumate saw firsthand how these types of role models can affect young women – from lunches that consist of a bag of Cheetos and a Coke to poor peer relationships with their classmates.
“It’s at a pivotal moment,” she said. “If we don’t catch them now, we may lose them a little bit.”
Shumate decided to do something about it.
After organizing the school’s first-ever POW! (Powerful Outstanding Women) event last year, she will continue to encourage Hadley women to be the best they can be at the second annual event Saturday.
The event, which will be from 8 a.m. to noon at Hadley Junior High School, 240 Hawthorne Blvd. in Glen Ellyn, is open to female Hadley students and the special women in their lives, including their moms, grandmas, aunts and other family members.
POW! will include a talk by motivational speaker Tiffany Bruessard, who created a pledge for the girls last year about being comfortable with themselves and recognizing their own worth.
After the talk, students and their guests will have the opportunity to attend three sessions on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to improvisation to art and journaling and more. Sessions will be led by members of the school and Chicago-area business community.
A raffle and trade show will offer a variety of items, including gift cards, apparel, health products and books, for attendees to win or purchase. As part of the event, The Bookstore in Glen Ellyn is bringing a selection of fiction books with strong female heroines, including “The Hunger Games” trilogy.
Overall, Shumate said the event is a way for female students to feel good about themselves. She said she’s noticed that some students aren’t comfortable receiving compliments or recognizing how talented they are – choosing instead to prioritize appearance over more important qualities. With this event and additional POW! programming in the future, Shumate hopes to continue to change that.
“No matter what they look like, what they do – just being themselves is enough,” Shumate said. “They’re wonderful.”