Column: 'Princesses' build confidence, joy of giving back through program

Pictured at last year’s pageant are, from left, “princess” Bria Walter, organizer Chelsea Gawlick and “princess” Emily Rigden.

I'd bet if a parent of a middle school girl was told, “I have a way to build your daughter’s confidence and encourage her to volunteer in the community,” most parents would jump at the chance.

A group of girls at Ripon College hope to offer such an opportunity.

This fall, students at the college will hold the annual Miss Ripon College Charity Pageant, which is held for Ripon College students.

But college women won’t be the only ones who will get the chance to wear a tiara and sash.

As part of the overall program, pageant organizers are actively seeking local middle-school girls to participate in the pageant’s “Princess Program.”

“Princess Program was started in the pageant’s second year under the platform of self-confidence,” said Ripon College student Chelsea Gawlick, who organizes the event. “Every year we have sixth- through eighth-grade girls shadow our college participants through practice sessions so they can learn about loving who they are ...

“Everyone — the committee and college participants — hope to show these girls that they can be confident and proud of who they are no matter what,” Gawlick said ...

Those who have participated have enjoyed the experience — even returning for a second year.

“... Both girls said they are so happy they went through it and are encouraging friends to participate this coming year,” Gawlick said. “The girls were somewhat intimidated by the idea of actually going up on stage during the pageant. Even though they didn’t do all the categories, they are crowned on stage to get their recognition for participation.” ...

Though the event isn’tforanother six months — it will be held Sept. 20 — Ripon College students are accepting applications from middle school girls now.

“In order to participate, [people] should contact either myself at gawlikc@ripon.edu or [fellow student organizer] Maggie Breen-Lyles at Breen-lylesM@ripon.edu,” Gawlick said. “... The pageant and all preparation for it is held on the Ripon College Campus, and they would start shadowing contestants late August and would receive their own sash and crown the night of the pageant ...

“There is a $30 fee that will help cover the cost of the sash and crown.”

Read the full column in the March 28, 2013 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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