Congress, Education

Sen. Capito, FOX’s Dana Perino bring Girls Rise Up to Suncrest Elementary

MORGANTOWN – Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and FOX News host Dana Perino brought a message of inspiration to fourth- and fifth-grade girls at Suncrest Elementary Monday morning.

The visit was part of Capito’s Girls Rise Up program – launched in 2015 after she became the first female senator from West Virginia and designed to to empower young women through education, physical fitness and self-confidence.

Perino served as press secretary to President George W. Bush from September 2007 through his last day in office in 2009. She now serves as a FOX commentator and co-hosts the talk show The Five.

Capito told the 70-plus girls seated on the bleachers in the school gym, “This is all about you learning about what Dana and I have done in our lives and how we want to inspire you guys to be that next generation of woman leaders.”

Capito and Perino met on Air Force One and have been friends since, they said.

Perino was born in Wyoming and grew up in Colorado. She and her sister were inspired by their father. “He had this mission, he was going to make sure we understood we were just as good as the boys. …

Everything will be OK. And we could be as successful as the boys.”

The two spoke to the girls about the three pillars of the program: education, physical fitness (Capito said she prefers to term it wellness and health) and self-confidence.

Perino stressed the importance of activity, good diet and preventative heath care. Wellness, she said, “one of the main things you can control in your life. … It is the most important thing I do to keep myself happy and successful.”

Capito and Perino took turns speaking and having some Q&A with the girls.

Perino pulled a lesson on self-confidence from her own grade school years. She dreaded math but feared raising her hand to ask for help. It later occurred to her that others were afraid too, and she failed them in a way by indulging her fear.

Perino talks to the girls.

“I think that raising your hand in class to ask a question is one of the most important things to do, and it can also be a scary thing to do, but once you do it you realize you’re actually helping out your fellow students.”

Another lesson came much later – a pair of funny but humbling moments with Bush. The first was when she was deputy secretary and was charged with accompanying a columnist on an interview. Bush didn’t agree to the interview and nodded at her to leave. She slunk away, deflated.

Her husband gave her a good bit of advice, she said: “For the rest of your life, you can say I’ve been kicked out of better places than this.”

Later, when she was secretary, they were on Air Force One, Bush was bored and she decided to distract him with some conversation. She asked him about that day with the columnist. Bush had no memory of it and was surprised she was still smarting from it.

The lesson: “Do not stay stuck on something that happened – move on.” Don’t be worried about what other people think of you. “They’re not thinking about you – they’re thinking about themselves. All those seconds, all those moments that you spend worrying about what someone else is thinking about you – that’s wasted time.”

Selfie time.

After the conversation, the girls gathered in groups on the gym floor to fill out Girls Rise Up challenge cards, listing some of their goals. Members of the groups then stood and shared some of their thoughts from the cards.

When it was over, Korinne Nastasi told members of the press that that was her favorite part of the morning. Classmate Anna Gerdes said, “It was cool knowing what everybody else’s goals were, too.”

“I love these events,” Perino said. “Young girls are the same everywhere.” They all deal with the same issues. “Its all about confidence, finding your strong voice, finding a balance, learning to trust yourself.”

Capito said that since she’s been doing this since 2015, she’s met girls who are seniors now and remember and appreciate those events. “That means a lot to me because it stuck.” Not because it pleases her ego, she said, but because they’ve seen what women can accomplish and taken that vision with them.

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