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Sister to Sister event aims to empower female teens

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    Lindsay Fitzgerald, Samantha Nenadal and Dani Wiley, seventh-graders at Buckeye Middle School, and Abby Heller, an 11th-grader at Cloverleaf, learn how to make a blanket during Sunday’s Sister to Sister event at Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital.

    ALYSSA ALFANO / GAZETTE

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MEDINA — The Medina County chapter of American Association of University Women held its annual Sister to Sister event at Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital on Sunday.

The purpose of the event to is to help encourage girls as they move through middle school.

“We started 20 years ago,” said AAUW member Pat Chaloupek. “We try to encourage girls to be strong and to value their education and to value themselves. This is the age, around 11, when they start feeling like … they put themselves down. The goal is for them to build confidence.”

The event started with keynote speaker Samantha Ponomarenko, who founded the Buckeye Blanket Buddies, an organization in Buckeye Schools that makes tie blankets and care packages to donate to the homeless.

“I’m here to tell you that your dreams become reality one choice at a time,” said Ponomarenko. She talked about positivity, the rewards of different actions and peer pressure and how these affect middle school-aged girls.

Thirty girls attended the event, where they ate breakfast and lunch, learned how to make tie blankets and practiced some PiYou, a mix of yoga and pilates.

“It’s been an amazing experience because there are so many people who come together to make this happen,” said Cindy McQuown, one of the co-chairs for the Sister to Sister event.

The AAUW has partnered with Medina Hospital every year the event has been held.

“It’s cool to see other teen leaders who were participants coming through the program again,” said Veronica Bagley, who works with 4-H Medina County. She went through the program when she was in middle school. “It really makes a difference for a lot of these kids.”

Contact reporter Alyssa Alfano at aalfano@medina-gazette.com.
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