Metro sisters selected for prestigious summit


LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — Two sisters are emerging as effective opinion leaders and opinion shapers for other girls there age, tweens, all across America. A youth summit in California last month moved these FOX 4 Young Achievers into action to enable tween girls everywhere to become strong, smart, capable adults.

“Here all my bullet points,” said  Mia Hamaker as she and her sister, Rachel, spread out copies of an outline. At Richardson Elementary School in Lee’s Summit, these sisters and their mom, Valerie, are briefing Principal Kelly Seitz on their exciting initiative. Rachel is returning as a student here and Mia just left for middle school.

“Be a good friend to others,” said Mia, continuing with their proposal. “Be the kind of friend you’d want to have.”

The girls want to get the students in the high grades at Richardson together for an important project, an assembly and follow-up focus groups on bullying and the smart use of technology and social media, information their mom and experts at Discovery Girls magazine are helping them put together.

“We’re not surprised because we had these young leaders here at school,” said Seitz about the girls bringing this to her for consideration. “They are great school citizens as far as leaders in our school. So it’s not surprising to us. But the fact that they want to come back and share with other students and create and pass the message and create more of that positive is a tribute to who they are and to their parents.”

Mia and Rachel are charged up about getting other young people engaged in creating positive change for the future of America’s tweens because of a unique and empowering summer experience. The girls were selected to take part in the first ever Discovery Girls National Tween Summit put on by the popular national magazine for tween girls that gets high praise for its relevance, sound advice and age-appropriateness.

Just 36 girls were chosen to attend the summer summit out of 8,000 who applied. And Mia and Rachel were the only sisters and the only girls from the Kansas City metro area.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Mia about getting selected.

“It’s real special,” said Rachel,.

“It’s really interesting because this kind of thing doesn’t really happen to me, ever,” said Mia.

“Hardly anybody,” said Rachel.

“Or anybody, exactly,” said Mia.

“I emphasized to the girls that a ‘summit’ means ‘a meeting of leaders’,” said the girls’ mom, Valerie. “And for adolescents to go with the mindset that, yes, they are going to have fun but that also their opinions matter and that they count and that these grownups in another state are interested really in what they have to say.”

The girls did have a lot of fun at the summit near San Francisco, especially the modeling at photo sessions for pictures that will appear in the magazine for the next year or so. But they also participated in discussions on very serious topics to provide insight, information and perspective for articles the magazine will publish.

“That empowers them to feel like they can be leaders,” said Valerie Hamaker, “not only here for these few days at the summit but that they can come home and hopefully make a difference in our little community and be opinion leaders and stand up for good things.”

“We would like to make sure girls know that they’re not alone,” said Mia.

“Do the best we can to try to take our experiences and bring it home with us to help other girls,” said Rachel. It’s what leaders do. And these sisters are ready to be voices of their generation.

The Hamaker sisters’ school initiative is the first local project to come out of the Discovery Girls National Tween Summit. They are also set to write an article themselves for the magazine — and they’ve been contacted by a similar magazine in Australia that wants to do an article on them.

FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Monday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m., every Wednesday on Fox 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 5 p.m.

Phil Witt, Fox 4 News