Lady Lions host LeadHERship Academy

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State women's basketball team welcomed 20-plus middle school-aged girls Sunday afternoon to the Lady Lions' second-annual LeadHERship Academy.

The Lady Lions, in partnership with the Jana Marie Foundation, spent the afternoon discussing the topic of "Beauty in Strength" with the local youth.   

"The lessons and messages surrounding 'Beauty in Strength' are incredibly important for both our LeadHERship Academy attendees and the Lady Lions," said head coach Coquese Washington. "We hope everyone left today's Academy feeling strong and knowing that each and every one of them are brave, courageous and impactful young women."

The afternoon began with a group discussion surrounding the phrase 'like a girl'. The Lady Lions and LeadHERship Academy attendees worked cooperatively to create positive messages on being strong and confident, regardless of gender. The various groups created mottos for the day that included 'I am a champion because I'm a girl', 'Our differences empower us to be an unstoppable force', and 'Girls can do anything better!'.

 "When we started the LeadHERship Academy last year, we wanted to connect with middle school girls in the area just knowing how difficult middle school can be for some kids," said Miriam Powell, the Lady Lions' Director of Community Outreach. "This year we wanted to focus on being who you are and being the best version of yourself.

"I've heard some of our current and former Lady Lions talk about how when they were in middle school they were teased because they were too tall, or too muscular, or whatever the case may be," continued Powell.  "We wanted to help these girls understand that it is okay to be strong, confident and athletic and that it's okay to embrace who you are and who you can be."

A pair of breakout sessions featured a lesson in self defense and a discussion surrounding the view of women that is presented by the media with the representatives of the Jana Marie Foundation. The academy attendees and Lady Lions worked together to learn and practice the basics of self defense and develop their own image of what strength and beauty look like.

"Today's LeadHERship Academy really highlighted the things that should be important in these young girls' lives," said sophomore Karmaria McDaniel. "This was important to me, personally, to understand that I have a platform to make young girls feel better about themselves. I left today feeling empowered myself."

The group then convened for a fun and inspired fitness session before wrapping up with a discussion about the day's lessons and what it means to be strong and beautiful women.

"It's great to see how the Lady Lions connected with the girls who came," Powell said. "I think sometimes they see a lot of themselves in these young girls and it's so important for them to connect with people in the community who look up to them as role models."

The mission of Jana Marie Foundation is to harness the power of dialogue and creative expression to spark conversations, build connections and promote the mental well-being among young people and their communities. 

Last Updated September 06, 2018