DYW rep teaches young women to be their ‘best self’

Published 2:37 pm Friday, October 12, 2018


Special to the Reporter

Sara Grace Estill hopes to inspire young people, especially young girls, to be themselves.

“As I go around Shelby County and talk to elementary school students, I want them to hear my message: being your best self is the only person you should try to be,” Estill said. “We live in a society where we are pressured to fit in or to have the most likes on social media, but if we give in to that peer pressure, we end up losing sight of who we are.”

Estill was named the Distinguished Young Woman representative for Shelby County in July at Oak Mountain High School.

The goal of the Distinguished Young Women program is to encourage girls heading into their senior year to grow in their life skills, such as interview, fitness, living a healthy lifestyle, and honing a talent or skill, as well as the opportunity to earn scholarship money to continue their education, according to Haley Scallions, publicity chair for the Shelby County DYW program.

Estill will spend the next year speaking about the “Be Your Best Self” program, which promotes excellence in the areas of “be healthy,” “be involved,” “be studious,” “be ambitious,” and “be responsible.”

“She will use this platform as she talks to children and adults alike,” Scallions said. “She will of course be in the Christmas parades across Shelby County, but most importantly she will be spreading the message of being one’s best self to students and teaching our area about what the DYW program stands for. Another major part of her year will be spent preparing for the Distinguished Young Woman Program of Alabama that takes place in January. She is one in a long line of state winners.”

Estill, a senior at Spain Park High School, is involved with the SPHS Peer Helper and Teens Need Teens programs. She is a company member at The Pointe Dance Arts, a SPHS ambassador, she is on the Honors Council, in the French and Key Clubs, and is part of the Alabama Federation of French Clubs Competitors and has received the Finley Award.

This was the first time to participate in a program such as the DYW for Estill, but she said she is used to the stage due to her time as a competitive dancer.

“DYW is very unique because it is not actually a pageant, it is a scholarship program,” Estill said. “It is based on how well-rounded girls are in academics, fitness, talent, interview, and speaking in front of an audience. Competing in all of these different facets was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone, but I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities I was given to learn valuable life skills and meet wonderful new people.”

Estill said the best part of the program for her was the chance to meet other young women from different high schools in Shelby County, and watching what each girl brought to the stage.

“Most of us have spent our lives in Shelby County living so close to one another, but never getting to meet because we go to different schools, “Estill said. “We spent so many hours the week leading up to the competition, and I know that we created a bond that will last a lifetime.”

For anyone considering participation in the DYW program, Scallions said an informational session is planned for Jan. 27, 2019 at 3 p.m. at the Hoover Public Library in the Fitzgerald Room.

Additional information is also available at shelby.al.distinguishedyw.org.

“I would highly encourage anyone considering this program to do it,” Estill said. “You will make great friends and even find out more about yourself than you have before. It is also one of the most special things you will do before your senior year is up, so why not make this time county? If I could do the week over again, I totally would. It is an experience I will never forget.”