Westerville365 winter 2016

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Westerville Education Foundation grant, programs within the initiative connect students to diverse literature, mentors and tutors, aiming to address achievement disparities and raise awareness of college and career opportunities. Ponzi says the MODEL program, in collaboration with locally based Role Model Magazine, aims to increase the girls’ sense of self-worth by providing positive support and encouragement from female adult mentors. “We felt a real need for our girls to have an opportunity to learn self-esteem and how to have healthy relationships,” she says. “Besides bringing in speakers to lead discussions, we wanted the girls to have the experience of interacting with each other. “Most of these girls are not in the same social group, but when they sit at the same table and discuss things important to them, they can realize a commonality and see that, ‘I’m not the only one who feels this way.’ ”

Inspiring Messages Guest speakers so far have been David Mahan, from Common Sense Culture, who covered how to make positive choices through “The Anatomy of a Choice,” and Jetta Fosberg, a 12-year-old Dayton-area resident who spoke about bullying prevention and maintains the Facebook page “Stand with Jetta.” The speakers close to the girls’ ages, Fosberg and Jenna Johnston, a junior at Westerville South High School, were the most memorable, according to three of the girls: Shambrea Fisher, Gabrielle Hutcherson and Ashley Rowland. “It’s cool to find out there are people our age doing big stuff for the community,” Ashley says. Johnston’s Supporting the Girls organization provides new bras to students who can’t afford them, with handwritten notes on attached tags. “We helped with the affirmations, writing things, like ‘You have a purpose,’ ” Gabrielle says.

“Every child has value. Every girl has value. But sometimes you have to have someone point it out to see it.” Betsy McGann parent and mentor

Westerville City Councilwoman Diane Fosselman laughs as she talks to the group she mentors. Westerville365 | Winter 2016

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