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Hassan, Abdi win Girls Rock! Awards

At its recent Girls Rock! Weekend, Hardy Girls Healthy Women celebrated the outstanding accomplishments of five Maine girls with its annual Girls Rock! Awards. Two of those award recipients are from Lewiston.

The Entrepreneurship Award went to Sahro Hassan, a senior at Lewiston High School. Hassan saw a niche in the fashion market for designs for Muslim women that are both fashionable and modest, so she decided to start her own business, Fashionuji. Her goal was to empower young women to express their personalities and identities through fashion and to inspire other girls in her community to find their passions and work toward purposeful goals.

She outlined a business plan, designed her first clothing line, prepared a sales pitch, presented it to an investor panel (which awarded her $1,100 in start-up cash), displayed her creations at a trade show, and successfully launched her business. To date, she has featured her work in two public fashion shows, both of which she planned and organized, and sells her designs through local businesses.

The Title IX Champion Award went to Mana Abdi, a senior at Lewiston High School. Abdi wanted to run cross country and track, which challenged the traditions of her Somali community. By choosing respect and communication as her tools, she was able to challenge and, in many cases, change this point of view. As the first Somali female to win a cross country meet in the State of Maine, she has blazed a trail for other Somali girls, some of whom are already following her around the track and onto the course.

The other award winners were Nicole Maines of Portland, who received the Community Organizing Award for her advocacy in the courtroom and in the classroom for equal treatment of transgender students in Maine; Rachel Friedman of Portland, who received the Health Advocacy Award for starting her own non-profit organization, Perform for a Cure, to promote cancer awareness and activism; and Ciara Boucher of Orrington, a cheerleader with Down Syndrome who received the Against the Odds Award for uniting her team on and off the field and becoming the MVP of her squad.

Hardy Girls Healthy Women is a non-profit agency located in Waterville that works to ensure all women and girls are independent, safe and equal in their everyday lives. Their Girls Rock! Weekend celebrates girls’ voices in art, music, literature, and society with awards honoring girls who have used their voices in bold and powerful ways to make Maine a better place for all girls. For more information, call (207) 861-8131 or see www.hghw.org.

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