As 10-year-old Kaylla Knabe flipped herself onto her head, YWCA Fitness Director Meryl Fish grabbed her legs. helping to hold them up. As Kaylla slowly got out of the stance a smile crossed her face. She had done a headstand for the first time.
The activity was part of a six-hour event Saturday called Girls Day Out on the SUNY Cortland campus, where girls in fourth to seventh grades got together with female college athletes to participate in a variety of activities meant to build relationships among the girls and teach them how to be leaders.
Jodie Knabe said her daughter was beyond adamant about participating in the event.
“She was like, ‘You need to check this out because we’re going,’” Knabe said.
“I wanted to participate to learn new things,” Kaylla said.
Arielle Moheimani is in the mechatronics and mechanical and electrical engineering program at SUNY Delhi.
On Saturday, she got to show the girls some of the things she’s doing at college during a mini career fair. For Moheimani, the day was also a reminder of when she participated in the event in sixth grade.
She decided to come back to show the young girls one of the future avenues they could take.
“It’s fun,” she said. “I’m kind of realizing how much they had to go through to make sure they understand what you’re talking about.”
Participating in the event has also become something the athletes look forward too, said SUNY Cortland Assistant Athletic Director Courtney Wormuth.
She noted that when she sent out a message asking for female athletes who wanted to help at the event, she got a lot of responses.
“Any time we can get them involved in the community is great,” she said.
Allie Bianchi, a sophomore and field hockey player, said the event shows the girls the other benefits of being on a sports team and how it can affect their lives.
“It’s not just helping your body, but your mind,” Bianchi said.
Bianchi said the best part of the day was when all the girls got together at the end to play a game called Minute to Win it.
“I think it’s honestly the most fun,” she said. “You’re screaming and cheering on each other and it’s a real representation of a team.”
This is Bianchi’s second year participating in the event and she said it gives the girls role models.
“You’ll have someone come up to you and they’ll want to be your buddy,” she said.
Knabe, who stayed to understand what the program was all about, was delighted by what she saw.
“I think it’s amazing,” she said. “I think girls and boys need more of this connection. It’s such a positive experience. I think today’s world is harsher, so it’s nice to have these activities.