International Girl Day: We highlight some Shoalhaven stars

THE United Nations recognised Wednesday October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child.

The day highlights and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.

Whether caused by armed conflict or natural disaster, humanitarian crises always hurt women and girls the most – they account for more than 75 percent of the refugees and displaced persons at risk from war, famine, persecution and natural disaster.

They are also vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation, during conflicts and in refugee camps. 

While girls and young women in the Shoalhaven may not be confronted with the same afflictions, sexism is ingrained in our culture, and without a doubt, they will face different challenges to young men in our community.

Here, we have featured a number of local girls and young women who have made positive contributions to their community and stories that are likely to inspire.

Local legends

There's not many people who can say they've ever flown a plane - let alone by their 15th birthday. Elyzia Quin is one of them. The Nowra resident set her sights on becoming a pilot at the tender age of four. At 13 locked in a deadline of flying solo by the age of 15. After countless hours of study, flight training, many scholarship applications and sheer bravery, Elyzia took to the sky on her 15th birthday. Fittingly, she had Alicia Keys' 'Girl on Fire' as the backdrop for the big take-off. 

Read Elyzia’s story.

Public speaking can strike fear into the hearts of pretty much anyone, but Belle Jeffrey will take it to the next level when she performs slam poetry at the State Library of NSW this month. The 13-year-old Bomaderry High School student stunned her audience at the Australian Slam Poetry regional heat in Nowra last month with her poem 'Pretty'. Her spine-tingling performance resonated with many of her young audience.

Check out Belle’s powerful work here.

A pair of school girls cringed while a teacher, armed with scissors, chopped off their long locks at Nowra Anglican College. It may take a couple of years for the hair to grow back, but what Brianna Mitchell and Chloe Wood plan to do with funds raised could impact kids in Cambodia and Vietnam for many years to come. 

Read about the day they lost their locks.

In the sporting arena, Cambewarra’s Jamie Priestley has dominated national show jumping competitions. She returned from her fifth straight Australian show jumping championships at Werribee with two top three finishes.

Have a look at what Jamie’s achieved lately.

A trio of sisters from Sanctuary Point share a passion for a sacred Irish tradition, and have undergone many years of training to become world class Irish dancers. Naomi, 19, Michaela, 17, and Amy Mason, 11, were successful at national championships early this month. 

Watch them dance.

A budding designer in Nowra has blended quintessential elements of Australian and Japanese fashion to create an award-winning sketch. Nowra Christian School year eight student Courtney Nielsen hopes for a future in the fashion industry.

Have a look at her impressive work.

Star teenage Shoalhaven cricket player Chantelle Downey is set for big things.

The Bomaderry Cricket Club player made her first grade debut for the Penrith Cats in the Sydney Women’s competition on Sunday.

Chantelle, prior to start of play, was presented with her first grade cap by the Penrith captain.

The first game of the season was against the Sydney Tigers and Chantelle was given the choice of which end to opening the bowling on.

She made the right choice and took the first two wickets of the innings by dismissing the Tigers’ opening batsmen - a great achievement for the 15-year-old Nowra High student.

Penrith lost the match and Chantelle took two of her team’s three wickets.

Chantelle is also a member of the Illawarra Cricket Academy and recently competed at the NSW under 18s Country Championships held at Raymond Terrace.

Illawarra won its first three games but in the final lost on the final ball against North Coast.

Chantelle will continue to play in the Shoalhaven District Cricket Association competition as captain of the Bomaderry under 16s team.

Bomaderry won the premiership last season and Chantelle hopes to lead them to another title.

Do you have anyone you would like to nominate?

We would love to feature them.

Email rebecca.fist@fairfaxmedia.com.au