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USGBC - National Capital Region Chapter
Potomac News Online | Local/Virginia
Studies show that girls between ages 10 and 15 are at risk for problems with drugs, alcohol and sexual activity, said Michelle DiPenti of the General Heiser Boys and Girls Club in Dumfries.
Potomac News Online | SMART Girls program opens in Dumfries
Studies show that girls between ages 10 and 15 are at risk for problems with drugs, alcohol and sexual activity, said Michelle DiPenti of the General Heiser Boys and Girls Club in Dumfries. To combat the risks, the Boys and Girls Club will offer the SMART Girls program for young women Thursday nights until the end of the school year, said DiPenti, Boys and Girls Club educational director.
The program, sponsored by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Inc.
, is designed to "provide gender- and age-specific information to help young women develop the necessary skills to have a long and healthy life," according to a recent press release.
"It's a program for girls to help them build self-esteem and help them learn more about their bodies," DiPenti
Girls who attend the one-hour programs will also learn how to develop good lifetime nutritional habits, acquire healthy exercise habits and learn to access the health care delivery system, Penti
said in the release.
Though SMART Girls
is a continuing program, girls can jump in at any session and participate as they are able, DiPenti
The program runs until June 17.It will include guest speakers, field trips and visits from local celebrities, such as members of the George Mason University
women's basketball team
"It's bonding for girls, building relationships with mentors," DiPenti
Former Mason Track Star Takes on a New Role
Michelle DiPenti has been a student of many sports and has always valued the lessons she learned while playing.Throughout her impressive career she was a sponge, absorbing life's teachings.Now she is wringing herself out into the minds of Virginia's troubled youth.DiPenti
graduated last spring as one of George Mason University's greatest runners.The former cross country and track standout is now teaching at the Boys and Girls Club of America in Dumfries.
At the club, DiPenti
works with disadvantaged youths and uses her
experiences from sports to prepare them for life's long distance run."The track team has helped me because it gave me leadership skills and taught me how to deal with different kids from different backgrounds," said DiPenti
has been on many teams and worked with many different coaches and teammates.She
was district champion and record setter in the 1600-meter and 4800-meter relay at Warren Area High School
in Pennsylvania.As a Warren Area Dragon, DiPenti
was All-State in track, All-TCAC first team for three consecutive years in cross-country and played three years of varsity basketball.
career at Mason
was the envy of most college runners.In early January, after taking 10th place in the 6,000 meter at the CAA Championships, she
was named to the All-CAA Cross Country
finished with the Patriots' best time in every meet in 2002, but her
competitive spirit pushed her
further.The team captain of the cross-country team from 2001 until 2003, she was also a standout on the track team.
As a middle distance runner on the track team, DiPenti
holds the record for the seventh best time in Patriots history in the indoor 1000-meter.Last season, she
posted the team's best times in the mile and 3000-meter. -best mile was a 5:05.95, a top-10 CAA time.
Before clearing a mile in almost five minutes flat, DiPenti
used to use her
speed on the hardwood.
In her senior year, DiPenti
made a decision to focus only on running, a choice that Blystone now says was "the right choice."
"Basketball was my first love and my first sport," said DiPenti
."It gave me the confidence to try other sports."With sports like track and cross country, DiPenti
was recruited heavily, not for basketball, but for her
new love and what she
was known best for in Warren, Penn.: running.James Madison University, Kentucky and Purdue among many others gave her the invite, but Michelle chose Mason.
learned more than just how to stay healthy, run a fast mile and shoot a basketball in her
athletic career.The most valuable lessons DiPenti took were from sports, and she is now teaching those lessons to the kids at the Boys and Girls Club: "Dedication and Patience."