A workshop at Miss Colleen’s Elite Dancentre in Rockville Centre earlier this month was held as a way to empower young women in the community.
The event was presented by Sydney’s Smiles, a nonprofit corporation with the vision to create an environment that embraces a culture of inclusion and acceptance. Through programs in and out of school, Sydney’s Smiles aims to educate, advocate and equip students, teachers and parents the tools and resources necessary to put an end to bullying, according to its website.
Sydnet Brett, a student at Long Beach High School, created the organization in 2016. A victim of both physical and verbal bullying, she started Sydney’s Smiles to help others going through the same thing to stand against being bullied. Living with dyslexia, she also strives to remove the negative stereotypes associated with children living with invisible disabilities.
She has overcome these challenges, currently holding the title of New York Junior Teen for the USA National Miss Organization.
The event on Feb. 4 was a homecoming of sorts for Brett, who trained in many styles of dance at the Miss Colleen’s Elite Dancentre, on Maple Avenue.
She was joined by guest speaker Sandy Bassin, a certified guidance coach and founder of HerStory, whose mission is to support teen girls as they navigate the challenges they face. Bassin has also partnered with the Kind Campaign, whose mission is tackle the negative effects of girl-on-girl bullying.
The interactive program focused on girl empowerment, bullying, supporting and including others and body image, among other topics.