Teen from Lebanon helps Dress a Girl nonprofit

The worldwide group counters sex trafficking.

A rising ninth-grader at Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA), Felicity Kenny of Lebanon is helping to protect girls around the world from sex trafficking and sexual assault.

Kenny, a 14-year-old, volunteers with Dress a Girl Around the World, a nonprofit organization that sews and delivers dresses that are designed to protect young women from sexual predators.

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Kenny has been involved with Dress a Girl Around the World (www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com) since she was 8 years old. Since then, she has enlisted the help of others from the YMCA in Lebanon, fellow church members and friends to work with the organization in efforts to prevent sex trafficking and assault across the globe.

In addition to volunteer work, Felicity is also an excellent student at OHVA (www.ohva.k12.com), a K12 online public community school (not a homeschool program).

Q: Can you tell us about growing up in Lebanon? What’s your family like?

A: I have been living in Lebanon for the past 11 years. My favorite things about Lebanon include the friendly community, the downtown charm, the Countryside YMCA, the bike trail and, of course, Whit's Frozen Custard. My parents have been married 36 years, and I have two brothers and two sisters, ranging 21 years, from oldest to youngest, so our ages are 35, 31, 21, 17, and I'm 14. My mom teaches clogging dance classes at the Countryside Y, my 17-year-old sister and I help her teach, and my dad dances with us sometimes, too; so not only is it great exercise, but it has been a real family bonding activity for my sister, me, and our parents for the past seven years.

Q: In addition to school, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

A: I love acting and participating in shows with community theater groups. I played the lead in Annie last November for the Children's Theatre of Mason. Ultimate Frisbee is another hobby with my nationally ranked homeschool team. I have been raising rabbits for four years in 4-H (Club), I am the president of the Warren County Rabbit Club, and I am presently awaiting the birth of my second litter of rabbits. I also compete in 4-H with cooking and sewing projects, which I have won on the county level and have taken three projects to the State Fair.

Q: Tell us about your volunteer work with Dress a Girl Around the World?

A: My mom and I sew very easy, basic dresses for the poor and we teach other people how to sew through this ministry. Sometimes the dresses are given away locally or they are given to people in Haiti and Africa. We are sending a huge quantity of dresses to Texas now for the flood victims there.

Q: Do people make dresses and send them to girls? How does that work?

A: First, we teach people to make either a pillow case dress or a T-shirt dress. After they know how they do all the basic seams and hems, adding elastic, then they can add their own style to the dress by adding ribbon, a pocket, patches and more. We become fashion designers ourselves while we help others less fortunate.

Q: What does this organization do? How does it help young women?

A: This organization helps girls too poor to own nice clothes. We clothe them and make them feel special and loved.

Q: You’re 14 now and you’ve been involved since you were eight? Can you tell us about your experiences? What have you enjoyed the most?

A: I was taught to sew at a young age. After I knew how, my mom found this organization and we started doing free workshops at the YMCA. I have enjoyed teaching others to sew and seeing everyone from all ages learn to be selfless for people that need it most.

Q: How has being involved in Dress a Girl Around the World contributed to your life? What have you learned or what has it taught you?

A: This organization has taught me to never take anything for granted. I have enjoyed taking the time to sew dresses.

Q: Why did you want to get involved? How have you seen the work you’re doing make a difference in other girl’s and women’s lives?

A: In my own community, we have given dresses to the poor all around us. I have seen people learning important sewing skills and realizing that not everyone has the same blessings. We can sew for them and be a blessing to others.

Q: How does Dress a Girl Around the World help protect girls from sex trafficking and sexual assault?

A: The dresses and labels make them look well cared for — that someone is watching over them and taking very good care of them. Predators have been known to pass over those well-dressed girls.

Q: What would you like to share with others about the work you’re doing with Dress a Girl Around the World? What do they need to know?

A: It is a wonderful organization that serves the less fortunate. While teaching people important sewing skills, they get to do something unselfish.

Q: Are there ways for the community to help or get involved?

A: My mom and I teach a free workshop/class at the Countryside YMCA in Lebanon the 3rd Friday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon in the lower level craft room. We also teach people how to correctly use their sewing machine if they don't already know. It is open to everyone in the community, whether or not you are a Y member.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share or talk about?

A: My mom and I teach clogging at the Countryside YMCA, and we'd like to invite other families to come and try it. We go to Clogging conventions all over the country and find people of all ages clogging on the same dance floor together — grandmas, grandpas, sons, daughters, grandkids getting exercise and having such fun together. We have met many people in their 80s and even 90s who clog. One man is a 94-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor — who still clogs! He inspires all of us to keep up with this healthy hobby.

Contact this contributing writer at gmwriteon@aol.com.

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