Friday, August 17, 2012

Flashback: National Be Your Best Self Week 2012 - Part 4

The series of posts over the next several days will feature essays on National Be Your Best Self Week 2012. These posts were the winning entries for the three Be Your Best Self Satellite Awards and Distinguished Outreach Award presented at the 55th Distinguished Young Women National Finals in June. National Be Your Best Self Week is a week-long outreach effort presented by Distinguished Young Women each spring. Participants at all levels of the program (local, state and national) engage in community outreach to share the positive message of the Be Your Best Self program. For more information, visit

As the Distinguished Young Woman of Cut Bank for 2012, there were several opportunities to serve my community. Given the time of my local program, I had the chance to participate in two Be Your Best Self weeks! It has been a fulfilling experience and I plan on carrying forward the memories of this past year of service. Whether it was me interacting with children or informing adults about the BYBS program, I was always happy and proud to do it. This year I have performed several presentations and projects to show others how to be their best selves and it was not only beneficial to them, but to me as well, because I always felt like I was improving along with them.

One of my presentations led me to the very isolated community of Babb on the Blackfeet
reservation. My sister Amanda (who was the Distinguished Young Woman of Montana at the time) and I were participating in the Montana Storytelling Roundup to inform others about the BYBS program. We arrived at the school and were set to perform in front of the students. I remember that there weren't very many kids. The teacher told us that we were the first presentation to come for the entire year. I performed my talent for them, which they got a good laugh from, and spoke to them about how they can be their best selves. They were so hungry to talk with us and they were very good about interacting and discussing the 5 points of the BYBS program. It was certainly the presentation I feel made the biggest impact on the kids. I thought we were there only for an hour or so, but later realized that we
were there four hours. None of us wanted it to end!

During the last few weeks of my service as Distinguished Young Woman of Cut Bank, I started working at the elementary After School program. While working there I noticed that they had set up a program called the Kid pack program. This involves members of the community donating food and the school would pack it into backpacks and send them home with students whose families needed a little extra help. I never once thought that child hunger could ever exist here, but having kids ask if they can take their snack home so they can have something to eat over the weekend really wakes you up to how harsh reality is. I also realized that if there are small children in this situation there must be students in
the middle and high schools in the same boat. That's why I started a Kidpack program for the older schools. I challenged all of the high school and middle school students in my school to step up to the plate and to Be Their Best Selves during the BYBS week. Their challenge was to collect food for the school food pantry and since we are in school I had to make it a class competition. I was so overwhelmed at how excited they became over this project. We ended up with more food than we could use before the end of the year, so we will be donating what is left to our town's food pantry to help them get through the summer. I know it won't solve the problem but it helps and brings awareness to the problem. What I also hope we accomplished is to show middle school and high school students that they can really make a difference in the lives of others and how good it makes you feel.

The Be Your Best Self program has done so much for me and I hope it was able to connect in the hearts of those who have listened to its message through me. My community and this amazing program have done so much for me in the past that I was not only happy but honored to represent and serve both of them. Even though there is no title now, there still is the passion to make a difference and the Be Your Best Self program is a great way to connect with people of all ages.

Alexis Wineman was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Cut Bank (Montana) for 2012. She was the recipient of the Distinguished Outreach Award presented at the 55th Distinguished Young Women National Finals held June 2012 in Mobile, Alabama.

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