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Old 04-11-2010, 08:54 AM   #1
A Son of Martha

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Default Steelers attend Strong Girls mentoring program

Steelers attend Strong Girls mentoring program
By Rick Wills
Sunday, April 11, 2010

Even Steelers quarterback Dennis Dixon, 25, says jumping rope gets more physically demanding as you get older.

"I'm in pretty good shape. Not old. But this is easier when you are a kid," said Dixon, one of three Steelers Charlie Batch and Mike Wallace were the others who attended a get-together at the Peterson Event Center organized by Strong Women Strong Girls, a mentoring program.

The approximately 200 elementary school girls, clad in pink T-shirts, spent two hours in the arena jumping rope to the pulsating music of singers like Lady Gaga. Intermittently, they listened to talks from the Steelers and members of the Pittsburgh Passion, a women's football team. The event's keynote speaker was University of Pittsburgh's women's basketball head coach, Agnus Berenato.

"There are a lot of driven women here. It's great," Dixon said.

Founded in Boston in 2004, Strong Women Strong Girls builds upon the lessons learned from strong women throughout history to encourage girls and young women become strong women themselves. The program highlights stories of successful women such as Alicia Keys and Michelle Obama.

In Pittsburgh, nearly 100 volunteers each week visit about 300 elementary school girls who attend schools in Pittsburgh, McKees Rocks, Homestead and Wilkinsburg.

"These girls are learning, and seeing, that college can be a goal for them. They know they can make it," said Kathleen Pulice, a first-year biology major at the University of Pittsburgh, who each week visits the Minadeo Elementary School in Squirrel Hill.

Jasmine Simpson, a student at Minadeo, who says she would like to work with neglected animals, looks forward to visits from college students like Pulice. "It's nice. It gives us a chance to do different things," Simpson said about the program.

Kimberly Adams, a junior at Duquesne University, said she feels that she makes an immediate impact with the program.

"You get involved. You teach them life skills and try to keep them on track. I feel I have some influence on these girls," said Adams, who meets with students from various elementary schools each week at the Hill House in the Hill District.

Rick Wills can be reached at rwills@tribweb.com or 412-320-7944.
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