GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – Nearly 140 middle school students from four districts in Kent County converged for a day of empowerment, education, and encouragement. Maranda’s Beautiful U teaches girls to be beautiful in mind, body, and soul.
Ferris State University Grand Rapids opened its doors for the event and provided a full team of staff members and volunteers. They support the strong message of Beautiful U, which gives girls the opportunity hear an empowering message from women who are experts in their fields. The students also get to experience what it’s like to be on a college campus and interact with women with backgrounds in different careers.
The attendees at Beautiful U had the special treat of Olympic swimmer Allison Schmitt as a guest speaker. Schmitt struggled with depression after swimming at the 2012 Olympics in London and also has a cousin who took her own life. Schmitt got help and competed at the Rio Olympics last summer, winning a gold medal.
Her mission now is to reach as many people as possible and let them now it’s OK to ask for help.
“When you have any success, you’re put on a pedestal, you’re put on a platform. And if I can use that platform in a positive way in … spreading the message that it’s OK to not be OK, at the end of the day, it makes me happy, it makes me proud to say that,” she said. “Hopefully I can save a life, hopefully I can spread this message and save a few lives out there.”
Dr. Lisa Lowery from Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital carried that subject with an important message for girls to love themselves.
Dr. Lowery sees many young people who don’t have good self-esteem, which can affect relationships and how they perform in school. She also talked about making healthy choices when it comes to piercing and tattoos.
Adding to the message of health and wellness, Priority Health is committed to enhancing people’s lives. Kris Rich of Priority showed the girls some exercises and how they can get moving everyday. With so much screen time these days, it’s extremely important to stay active. Kris explains that exercise isn’t about being ‘skinny’, it’s about feeling strong and good about yourself inside and out.
Finish this sentence: I am…. After Beautiful U, participants filled the board with words like ‘Powerful’, ‘Intelligent’, and ‘Capable’. It’s amazing to see the empowerment these girls received! Girls learned that they can be who they are in life and “it’s ok to not be ok”.