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Bay Path Students Help Launch International Day of the Girl Child with Girls Inc. of Holyoke

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University students joined Girls Inc. of Holyoke at the university’s Empsall Hall last week to launch public service announcements (PSAs) in honor of International Day of the Girl Child, a celebration designated by the United Nations on Oct. 11. The PSAs, created by students in the Communications program, reflected different perspectives on how to encourage and empower girls of all ages and backgrounds.

“By creating PSAs for International Day of the Girl Child that they really believe in, our students are not only building their skills in communication, they’re using curiosity to solve problems and inspire others, and it speaks volumes to their commitment to being strong, smart, and bold,” said Janine Fondon, chair of Undergraduate Communications. “In the Communications program, we are celebrating our ability to join together as a community to raise our positive voices for change, challenge, and opportunity. We’re glad that we had this opportunity with leaders and guests from the community to have the conversation needed for girls and women to be inspired, engaged, and curious.”

The event featured a ‘COMMversation,’ where university students and local panelists, including Girls Inc. Executive Director Suzanne Parker, Women’s Fund of Western Mass CEO Donna Haghighat, Springfield School Committee member LaTonia Monroe Naylor, Open Pixel Studios co-founder and animator Kathryn Taccone, and author and Bay Path Professor Maria Luisa Arroyo, engaged in conversations about how to create a world where girls can feel safe as they explore their individual paths to success. Bay Path students of all disciplines used their storytelling skills to focus on what they feel are currently the biggest challenges, as well as opportunities for girls and women. A walk-through gallery of their PSAs was displayed, prompting discussion among guests, faculty, staff, and other students.

“To be among Bay Path University students, staff, and faculty, and other panelists from the community, was a wonderful way to start International Day of the Girl Child,” Parker said. “Talking about women’s leadership is something we are passionate about at Girls Inc., where we work to inspire girls to be strong, smart, and bold, so it was an honor to be here.”

Naomi Naylor, daughter of LaTonia Monroe Naylor, attended the event as a local student ambassador. She showcased and described a work of art she painted called “Colors of Acceptance.” Following the event, she donated this piece to Bay Path University through Fondon. Arroyo, who was Springfield’s inaugural poet laureate, signed her book at the event. The ongoing partnership between Girls Inc. and Bay Path University for International Day of the Girl Child was further highlighted in the afternoon as Fondon offered a presentation of her research for “The Intersection: Women of Color On the Move.”

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