‘Beautiful Me’ program shines in the Roslyn school district

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Students from the Roslyn School District presented on their experiences with the Beautiful Me program at the district's Board of Education meeting. (Photo by Rose Weldon)

A program on self-esteem is seeing positive effects for Roslyn students, as seen at the district’s Board of Education meeting last Thursday.

School social workers Stephanie Leibowitz from East Hills Elementary School and Julie Lomot from Harbor Hill Elementary School and six student members of the Beautiful Me program made a presentation to the board.

The Beautiful Me program was created by Warren and Jackie Hance of Floral Park, after their three daughters Emma, Alyson and Katie were killed in a wrong-way crash on the Taconic Parkway in 2006. Operated by the Hance Family Foundation, the program’s goal is to assist women of all ages in recognizing their innate beauty, building healthy relationships and working to improve self-esteem.

Leibowitz and Lomot, who introduced the program last year, are the latest in a line of school officials to bring the program to elementary, middle and high schools, as well as universities.

Lomot thanked the board for its support, and said that the program was meant to address a “self-esteem crisis” in the world for women and girls.

During the program’s hourlong sessions, Leibowitz, Lomot and participants from the elementary schools discuss coping mechanisms for solving problems, identify positive role models and interpret body language. The third session ends with the participants writing compliments for each other.

Emme Gerson, a student from Harbor Hill Elementary, said she learned about her own inner beauty and that of her fellow participants.

“Beautiful Me has changed me so much because now I know that no matter what happens, I’m always beautiful on the inside, and it doesn’t matter how I look on the outside,” Gerson said. “Now I get to learn how amazing everyone else is, and show everyone how amazing I am.”

Gerson and fellow participants Olivia Lippman of Harbor Hills Elementary and Aster Cooperman, Gianna DiSanti and Rafi Pergament of East Hills Elementary attested to the program’s effects, and answered questions from the board.

Leibowitz and Lomot added that the students would act as “ambassadors” for the program in later years, going to classrooms and telling their classmates about it to encourage interest.

Greg Wasserman, director of guidance for the district, praised the social workers for their leadership.

“I have to say, from the first day that [Leibowitz and Lomot] started with us, they have excelled beyond my expectations,” Wasserman said. “It’s always hard when you get these programs from these organizations, because it can come across as packaged. What I love about this is that what they do have are the excitement, enthusiasm and uniqueness that Stephanie and Julie bring into this program for the benefit of our kids.”

School board President Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy reacted positively to the presentation. “What I love most about what I’ve heard and seen is the positive, forward-thinking energy that’s come from this particular program,” Ben-Levy said. “You can all be agents for change. You all have more power than you know.”

Wasserman congratulated the participants and said that the program would continue.

“It’s so amazing to see, not just as they do it, but the effects afterward, because it really does resonate with our kids, and we are so excited to continue and build,” Wasserman said.

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