FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - In the family room at Potomac Place Neighborhood Center, several pre-teens and teenage girls sat at tables getting their nails painted with glittering polishes and flower designs.

"It just makes me feel mature and pretty," said Madi Musik, a sixth-grader at MacArthur Middle School, after her manicure.

Madi was one of about 30 girls, ages 11 to 18, to be pampered with professional manicures and attend talks about proper nutrition, exercise and makeup at "Simply Sensational," a three-hour seminar organized to boost girls' self-esteem

Held Aug. 17, the first-time event was sponsored by Army Community Service and Picerne Military Housing.

The goal, said Elizabeth Hinton, Family Services program manager for Picerne and the event co-organizer, was to "do something uplifting and inspiring" for girls from military and Department of Defense civilian families and deal with serious teen-related issues such as low self-esteem, negative body image, peer pressure and bullying.

"We want to remind them how wonderful they are," she said.

Hinton came up with the idea last spring after several girls asked her to hold an event "just for them" rather than for families.

Hinton contacted Antoinette Saunders-Gauth, the victim advocate at ACS, and asked for her help. The two women brainstormed ideas for a program. Gauth then contacted several ACS employees about volunteering.

Hinton contacted professionals outside the gate as well. She also suggested that Gauth deliver a motivational talk on self-esteem.

"We have so many young ladies that want what they see on television: the expensive car, the good-looking guy. They don't know what self is," Gauth said. "We have to learn to be ourselves and take hold of the values that are learned at home."

During her talk, Gauth stressed the importance of self-respect, treating others with kindness and pursuing an education.

Other seminar contributors included Maliaka Mason, a food and nutritionist specialist with Child, Youth and School Services, who spoke about the importance of proper nutrition in maintaining good health.

Julie Yates, a life-skills educator and Family Employment program manager at the Fleet & Family Support Center, led the girls in several 20-minute exercise sessions at the Potomac Place gym. A certified aerobic instructor, Yates also encouraged participants to be active daily.

Tenisha Dotstry, a freelance makeup artist and volunteer with Fort Meade's USO, gave several brief makeup demonstrations. Two manicurists from the Five Star Nail Salon and Day Spa in Columbia polished the girls' nails.

Putting On The Ritz Catering in Laurel provided lunch.

Hinton and Gauth said they plan to offer another "Simply Sensational" seminar next year. They hope to also organize a similar event for boys.

Shawn Lyons said she wanted her 11-year-old daughter Sabriah to participate and "be around positive people for her empowerment."

Sabriah, a seventh-grader at MacArthur Middle School, said growing up to be a self-confident young lady hasn't been too difficult.

"It's not really hard," she said, "not if you hang out with the right people."

Page last updated Thu August 25th, 2011 at 00:00