The first local Girls World Expo drew 1,000 people for fun, seminars, music, awards and inspiring talks on Sunday afternoon.
Held at the Turnstone Plassman Center, the event was designed to empower girls and allows girls to “get to know more about themselves and be more involved in their community,” said Krystal Sullivan-Doyle, Federated Media marketing and events director. Federated partnered with the New York-based Girls World Expo to put on the event, she said.
Heather Elwood said the expo was “really important” to her. The 16-year-old Lakewood Park Christian School student joined the event's advisory board after learning about it through her Girl Scouts troop.
“It teaches some girls to believe in themselves and shows them the possibilities they have in life,” she said.
Some of those possibilities include higher education. Several colleges had booths at the expo, including Indiana University, Purdue University, the University of Saint Francis and Indiana Tech. The U.S. Army had a booth and was one of the sponsors.
The Army chose 10 girls as “Girls of Merit” and gave them certificates. They were Sidney Grepke, Victoria Benjamin Booker, Magnolia Peters, Lyna Loyall, Kaliyah Guillet, Grace Hanna, Emily Bracey, Elayna Hasty, Allison Stachler and Alex Sittler.
The girls, ages 11 to 18, were nominated by parents, teachers, counselors, mentors, coaches and others, the program said.
The recipients have had “a powerful impact on their families, peers or communities,” the program noted.
Girls were also encouraged to perform onstage at the expo. Cydney Bridges, Miss Fort Wayne 2020, sang “Colors of the Wind” from Disney's animated movie, “Pocahantas” and “Out Here on My Own,” a hit song from the 1980 movie “Fame.”
Bridges, a nursing student at Huntington University, said her message is #defyandconquer and she is there “to encourage our youth to overcome their obstacles.” Some of those obstacles include being from single-parent homes, low-income families, divorced families “or simply someone who has been told they can't do something,” Bridges said.
The 35-plus booths didn't just cater to make-up, clothing and other beauty themes but offered a well-rounded look at the world. The Allen County Public Library, the American Red Cross, Science Central and the YMCA also had booths, but the longest line was the one for Ravenscroft Beauty College.