December 5, 2021

College students, girls interact at Girls Day Out event

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

SUNY Cortland freshman Fabiola Adorno Aguila helps Gabryella Russell walk across a balance beam Saturday during the YWCA’s Girls Day Out event at SUNY Cortland’s Park Center.

Gabryella Russell walked across a balance beam Saturday in a gymnasium at SUNY Cortland’s Park Center as college freshman Faiolo Adorno Aguila held her hand, literally and figuratively giving the girl support.

Other girls watched as they awaited their turns during YWCA Girls Day Out, an annual event to build confidence in children as they interact with college students.

Adorno Aguila, a freshman on the field hockey team, said the day was about being inclusive and helping build confidence in the girls.

“If they fell or made a mistake, another girl would be like, ‘It’s OK,’ and pick each other up so it was super cute,” Adorno Aguila said.

“It think it really reinforces the way they see themselves,” she said. “It gives them a little more confidence to go out and try new things and if they want to be on a sports team, they know they’ve talked with us.”

JaLaya Nelson, a fourth-grader who goes to Smith Intermediate School in Cortland, said she liked programs like this as it gave her the chance to interact with other kids her age.

“They’re really fun,” she said. “You get to meet new people and make new friends.”

Nelson befriended and practiced tossing a Frisbee with MacKenzy Oursler, a sixth grader who goes to Tully Elementary School. The two said they both enjoyed the swimming portion of the day.

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

JaLaya Nelson, right, tosses a Frisbee Saturday to MacKenzy Oursler during the YWCA’s Girls Day Out event at SUNY Cortland’s Park Center.

Remi Stull, a fourth-grader at McGraw Elementary School, said that fun, more than doing well in the activities, was the most important part of the day.

“It doesn’t really matter if you mess up,” she said. “It’s just fun.”

“We know how important it is for any child to have a mentor or someone they can look up to and learn from,” said Kelly Tobin, the executive director of Cortland’s YWCA. “They’re able to see what it looks like to be part of college and what it looks like to be part of a college team and they learn a lot from each other.”

The YWCA hosted the event for nearly 100 girls in grades four to seven, who played ultimate Frisbee and performed gymnastic and swimming exercises, all run by members of SUNY Cortland’s field hockey team.

A career fair and women’s basketball game were also part of the schedule.

“The girls are really excited and they love coming together and being with their friends but also looking up to the college students,” Tobin said.