Local fashion show helps empower women and youth girls

WEST SALEM, Wi. (WEAU)-- Wednesday night was the second annual MGV Fashion for Empowerment show.

One of the models in the Fashion for Empowerment show.

The event supports the SMART Girls Program of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse.

"The SMART Girls Program is all about building self confidence in young girls, creating a safe space to talk about issues that they may be going through in their home life, in school, wherever and then finding ways to make stressful situations tolerable for them," said Tiegen Haye, the Director of Program Development for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse.

The SMART Girls Program is nationwide. Some local members feel the program is a chance to be around other girls that they otherwise might not meet.

"I have a house full of guys, brothers, everyone, so to have this be just for girls and for everyone to just be with us and have the same thoughts I have, it's really amazing," said Diariana, a member of the SMART Girls Program.

Last year the event raised $2200 for the program and this year they hope to increase that.

Members of the SMART Girls Program get to walk in the show and have their makeup done professionally, however, coordinators say the affects of tonight are far more than just cosmetic.

"They get an experience that will last a lifetime," Haye said. "They can feel empowered, build their confidence, build their self esteem and they get to meet wonderful people from the community just trying to make a difference in their lives too."

More than 50 teens participate in the local SMART Girls Program. While some events focus on beauty and creating makeup, others focus on helping girls realize career goals.

"Last year we did a college tour and I was on the fence about this college... and that kind of pushed me towards ‘this is where I want to go to college,'" said Madysen Ryan, a SMART Girls Program member. "So it was really cool to kind of get a standpoint on 'I know what i want to do with my life after high school.'"

The SMART Girls Program is for girls in kindergarten all the way up to their teens.