January 31, 2011


Girls encouraged to dream big

Climb Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland fifth-grader Taylor Hart ascends a climbing wall Saturday at Girls’ Day Out at the SUNY Cortland PER Center. About 70 girls attended the 10th annual event this year at the college.

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND – Dozens of fifth- through eighth-grade girls crowded around Dr. Carrie Klotz’s table, stitching oranges and wrapping splints around each others arms.
“This is an awesome opportunity for girls to see the options that are out there for them,” said Klotz, an emergency room physician at Cortland Regional Medical Center. “It’s fun to see them enjoy this kind of hands-on stuff.”
About 70 girls participated in the 10th annual Girls’ Day Out event at SUNY Cortland. The event encourages exercise and healthy living and introduces girls to possible career paths.
“These are the formative years for girls,” said Amy Simrell, executive director of the YWCA. “They’re just heading toward their teenage years, beginning the transition to becoming young adults. It’s a really good point to catch them and let them know what’s out there.”
SUNY Cortland and the Cortland YWCA co-sponsor the day-long event, this year themed “Play, Believe, Achieve.”
In the morning, the girls chose activities and clinics in rock climbing, dance, ice-skating, soccer, yoga and others. Some of the clinics were taught by female SUNY Cortland athletes.
In the afternoon, the girls visited a career fair with 17 local professionals in careers considered nontraditional for women and a health session on the importance of sleep.
“The fair is designed to expose the girls to a lot of different opportunities and let them know that they can do anything,” said Ibipo Johnston-Anumonwo, the coordinator of the career fair and a professor in SUNY Cortland’s geography department.
At the fair, Colleen Price, a fire captain, discussed her career and helped the girls try on a fire uniform. She said only about 4 percent of firefighters in the United States are women.
“The firefighters you see on TV are mainly men,” Price said. “Being a firefighter is more about endurance and fitness than it is raw strength. So for girls who enjoy sports and fitness, it can be a great fit.”
Price distributed a booklet about firefighting and let the girls know about the Phoenix Fire Camp in Utica, a summer camp for young women who are interested in the fire service.
The fair also included female doctors, bankers, lawyers, scientists and Cortland Mayor Susan Feiszli.
At the end of the day, the girls learned routines with the cheerleaders, and the Kickline and Danceworks dance clubs. They performed the routines during half-time at the SUNY Cortland women’s basketball game on Saturday.
As they munched on their lunches at the end of the event, eighth-graders Mackenzie Prince and Katie Memory talked about their favorite events.
“I liked the career fair, because it kind of gave us an insight into what our futures will be like,” Prince said.
“The career fair was great, because I got to dress up in the firefighter’s uniform,” Memory said. “It was so hot in there.”

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