WATERVILLE —  Hardy Girls Healthy Women is celebrating Maine girls in its annual Girls Rock! Weekend on Friday and Saturday, April 4 and 5. The weekend includes the sixth annual Girls Rock! Awards, a ceremony that recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of five Maine girls.

Girls Rock! Weekend celebrates girls’ voices in art, music, literature and society, and the awards honor girls who are using their voices in bold and powerful ways to make Maine a better place for all girls.

The Title IX Champion Award winner, Mana Abdi, 18, is a senior at Lewiston High School. Mana wanted to run cross country and track, which challenged tradition in her Somali community. By choosing respect and communication as her tools, Mana was able to challenge, and in many cases, change this point of view.

She became the first Somali female to win a cross country meet in the state, and as she blazes the trail for Somali girls to run, some are already following her around the track and on the course.

The Entrepreneurship Award winner, Sahro Hassan, is a senior at Lewiston High School. Sahro saw a niche in the fashion market that someone needed to fill; her vision is to create designs for Muslim women that are both fashionable and modest.

Sahro decided that she is just the person to do that so she developed her passion for fashion and started her own business, Fashionuji. Her goal was to empower young women to express their personalities and identities through their fashion and to inspire other girls in her community to find their passions and work toward purposeful goals.

She outlined a business plan, designed her first clothing line, prepared a sales pitch, presented in front of an investor panel (which awarded her $1,100 as start-up cash), displayed her creations at a trade show and successfully launched her business.

Although, this was already a huge accomplishment, Sahro continued to grow her business, taking advantage of all opportunities that came her way. She featured her work in two public fashion shows, both of which she planned and organized. She approached local businesses asking to sell her designs, to which she had many positive responses.

Other award winners include Nicole Maines of Portland, Rachel Friedman of Portland and Ciara Boucher of Orrington.

To find out more about Hardy Girls programs and events, visit www.hghw.org or call 861-8131.

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