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Women to unite to help area youth Wednesday
By Staff reports

August 23. 2013 9:20AM
Sioux Empire United Way will host the 9th annual WomenUnite Event 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28 at the Ramkota Exhibit Hall. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased by calling 336-2095. More than 700 women are expected to attend the event, which will launch a new program for middle school and high school students.
Brandon Valley High School will be holding three Challenge Days in September.

“Responding to a local survey last year, 55 percent of area middle school students indicated that within the past 30 days they had been called names, insulted, or teased,” said Stephanie Gongopolous, event co-chairwoman. “Sioux Empire United Way is partnering with the Challenge Day program to address that issue in middle and high schools across the Sioux Empire.”

Challenge Day is a one-day program for students in grades 7-12 that is designed to create trust and build connections. Challenge Day successfully addresses some common issues seen at most schools including: cliques, gossip, negative judgments, isolation, and stereotypes. Trained facilitators lead the day’s activities for 100 students and 25 adults. Students participate in activities that help them to recognize stereotypes that exist among themselves, are led through discussions on the healthy expression of emotions, and are given the opportunity to make amends for hurts they have caused each other.

“At the WomenUnite Event, we’ll be discussing with women the issues facing students today, as well as introducing the new Challenge Day program,” continued Gongopolous. “Challenge Day pilots were held last fall at West Central Middle School and Brandon Valley High School, so we’ll also hear the initial impact of the program.”

Featured speakers at this year’s event include West Central Middle School Counselor Michelle Pliska and Brandon Valley High School parents Lisa Hjermstad and Valerie Holmes.

To learn more about the WomenUnite event or Challenge Day, go to

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