'Soy Unica' encourages, inspires young girls
By Gregory A. Scibelli - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Sat., May. 21, 2011
About 60 children and teenagers attended the seventh annual “Soy Unica: I Am A Unique Woman” program at the Windsor Community Center on Saturday, May 14.
The girls were split into groups at the end and participated in activities and discussions aimed at empowering young ladies into feeling confident in themselves and staying away from destructive activities.
There to help inspire the girls was Miss Teen Connecticut Samantha Sojka, of Granby, and Miss Puerto Rico Pre-Teen Lakisha Malave, of New Britain. The two were keynote speakers and also spent time signing autographs and talking with the girls, who ranged in age from 9 to 14.
The girls often crowded the guests, eager to take photos with them.
Sojka, 19, said the event was important for her to attend because she has a commitment to helping keep girls away from drugs.
“My platform is dedicated to staying above the influence,” Sojka said. “It’s my job to be around at these events and help these girls try to stay away from drugs.”
Malave, 13, said she also wants to be a good role model to younger girls and hopes she made an impact on the girls during her speeches at the event.
“It can be very hard for girls my age to try and fit in without trying smoking or doing drugs,” said Malave. “And that can lead to other destructive behaviors.”
The program consisted of several workshops, including one held for several parents who attended the event. The workshops were age-appropriate and designed to generate discussion about important social topics, including peer pressure and self-esteem issues.
Mirelle Freedman, director of the Capital Area Substance Abuse Council, said she hopes the girls will gain an understanding that they can go after whatever dreams they want and that nothing is out of reach. She also wishes for them to have the best life possible.
“I wish for them to grow up healthy and safe,” said Freedman. “There are two different paths you can take in life. We hope the girls who came here today take the path toward good health, education and family.”
Freedman lauded the use of the Windsor Community Center, which was done for the first time in the seven-year history of the event. She said the town was an excellent host.
The CASAC puts on many programs for young students, including a boys’ after-school group in Suffield, bullying programs in Windsor Locks, and other girls’ groups as well. All of the groups are aimed at doing positive things with youngsters and encouraging drug-free and civil lifestyles.
The CASAC works with 16 communities in the Hartford area.