Celebrating The Game Changers

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Antigone Rising’s Kristen Ellis-Henderson, Cathy Henderson and Nini Camps pose on the red carpet with the young female musicians who performed at BeachFest. (Photo by Jill Nossa)

Female Role Models Rock the Girls Rising Game Changers Awards

The women of Antigone Rising know how to throw a party. Prior to the rock band’s fifth annual Beach Fest, a red carpet benefit—the first-ever Girls Rising Game Changers Awards—took place at the Glenwood Landing Firehouse, celebrating not only the accomplishments of the band’s nonprofit, but also recognizing notable female musicians—both locally and nationally—while taking time to give back to local youth. The evening began with a stroll and photo-op on the red carpet for performers and award winners, followed by musical performances and the awards ceremony, sponsored by Bedell Wine Cellar with food catered by Grassroots Bake Shop in Glen Head.

“It was a wonderful evening and the money we raised will go toward the work we’re doing with our nonprofit,” said Kristen Ellis-Henderson, guitarist of Antigone Rising.

Girls Rising is a 501c3 nonprofit that began in 2012 as a curriculum Antigone Rising used while touring throughout the Middle East with the U.S. State Department. After realizing the lack of worthy female role models in the United States, the band members decided to continue outreach in their community and now tours nationally and internationally with the program, providing kids the opportunity to see women excel in a male dominated profession and offering strong female and LGBT role models to emulate. They’ve brought their outreach to local schools and have partnered with Melissa Etheridge, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and Sue Wicks to create three grants to be awarded to students in kindergarten through eighth grade. To be eligible, the students must have attended a Girls Rising outreach during the past school year and show strong leadership and school community skills. Administrators from districts around the country were asked to nominate students; the chosen students ended up being from the Glen Cove and North Shore school districts.

“When it came down to it, the three girls who were the most inspired, motivated and genuine were from our local community,” said Ellis-Henderson. “We give the grants to remind girls to always remember to reach out a helping hand to other girls coming up the ladder to success.”

The Melissa Etheridge and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts Girls Rising Grant award recipients were Glen Cove students Allaina and Allyna James, who just completed eighth grade at Finley Middle School. The girls shone on the red carpet alongside their mother, and said they were thrilled to win the award.

The Sue Wicks Girls Rising grant was awarded to Lia Serravalle, a fourth-grader at Sea Cliff Elementary School. Ellis-Henderson said that this grant is awarded annually to an elementary age student who exemplifies strong leadership and school community spirit and goes specifically to help fund the student’s extracurricular activity.

Also on the red carpet were Carnie Wilson of Wilson Phillips fame, who received the first ever Game Changer Award and moderated the panel discussion during BeachFest; songwriter Julie Gold, who won a Grammy for “From a Distance;” as well as all of the performers, including Antigone Rising, Sweet Lizzy Project, Sinclair, Sea Cliff Elementary fourth-grader Mae Curiale, recent North Shore High School graduate Ella Oswald and Finley Middle School eighth-graders Gianna Marconi and Sofia Laurenti, who were mentored by Girls Rising and performed at the Game Changer Awards.

“I’m humbled that Antigone Rising granted me with this beautiful award,” Wilson said. “We need young girls to know that they can do it. Listen to your gut instinct, never let anybody say, ‘you can’t, and strive not for perfection, but for progress.”

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