KEYSER – Sen. Shelley Moore Capito is traveling throughout the state to encourage fifth grade girls to strive to be leaders in their schools, communities, state and even the world.

Her travels brought her to Keyser Middle School on Thursday to talk about Girl Power.

Capito has launched the initiative "West Virginia Girls Rise Up," designed to encourage young girls to pursue a good education, a healthy lifestyle, and a sense of confidence as they begin to examine what they want to do with their lives.

Speaking to an attentive group of girls at KMS, Capito told them she was the first female U.S. Senator to be elected in West Virginia, and as a national leader, she began asking herself what her daughter would remember about her and her accomplishments.

She talked about a number of females who distinguished themselves in various fields, including Ginny Thrasher, a West Virginia University student and the first athlete to win a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics; Simone Biles, who became the most decorated American gymnast following her wins in 2016; Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist who has fought for female rights in a country where women are considered inferior to men; and Harriet Tubman, the escaped slave who established the Underground Railroad and participated in the struggle for women's suffrage.

She explained to the girls that her Rise Up program has three components - Education, fitness and confidence boosters.

She presented a slide show offering suggestions for ways to improve in each component:

  • Education: Keep a daily journal, read a book that challenges you, do 30 extra minutes of homework, research a college or career that interests you.
  • Fitness: Do 50 jumping jacks a day, go for a walk or job daily, dance 30 minutes a day, try a new fruit or vegetable.
  • Confidence boosters: Try out for a sports team, volunteer at school or in the community, make a new friend at school, speak up in class.

Capito acknowledged that boosting your confidence is the hardest of the three.

She thought back to when she was in fifth grade, when she was uncomfortable speaking up in class.

"And now look at me," she said. "I speak in front of people every single day!

"How did I do that? I practiced!," she said.

Capito concluded her program by having the girls write down at last one suggestion for boosting their confidence.

"Write it down, put it in your desk, and look at it in a week," she said. "Then ask yourself, 'Have I done this?'" she said.

At the conclusion of the program, Sen. Capito took a tour of the middle school, guided by students Alec Stanislawczyk, Ava Rexrode, Sarah Kate Sions, and Peyton Root.