TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) joined a panel discussion at the Liberty Empowerment Session, hosted by the Garden of Dreams Foundation and the New York Liberty at the Madison Square Garden Training Center in Tarrytown on Wednesday, Aug. 24.
The Liberty Empowerment Session is a confidence-building workshop devised to empower young girls and instill in them a strong sense of self esteem.
One hundred girls from the Children's Aid Society, WHEDco, the Police Athletic League and SCO Family of Services joined in a discussion with a panel of four speakers: former WNBA star Teresa Weatherspoon, news anchor Rebecca Harlow, dancer, model Damaris Lewis and Stewart-Cousins.
Panelists provided the girls with brief accounts of their lives and discussed the biggest obstacles they had faced on the road to success.
Moderator Kym Hampton, a former WNBA player, asked Stewart-Cousins about the meaning of serving as a leader and a woman in government.
"As the first female leader of a legislative conference in New York State, I'm proud to say that I've had a hand in smashing this political glass ceiling," Stewart-Cousins said. "Government works best when it represents the needs and composition of the people it serves. Women make up almost 52 percent of the population, but only 21 percent of the state legislature is female. My hope is that my role in the Senate paves the way for women leaders in the future. We have a lot to bring to the table and we deserve to have a seat at it."
After the discussion, the girls broke into smaller groups and participated in a basketball clinic. They moved between stations designed to teach them particular skills, including passing, shooting, dribbling, ball-handling, strength and conditioning, and rebounding.
Stewart-Cousins joined the other panelists in offering words of encouragement to the girls as they honed their skills on the court.
"If you have a passion, you should chase after it with everything you've got," she said. "Train, educate yourself and practice as much as you can. You can overcome any hardship life throws at you with enough preparation and conviction."