GREENFIELD — Hoping to improve the lives of local girls and expand what it means to truly be a queen, Annalee Witte recently created an event that crowned 20 little girls from around the county.

Reigning 4-H Fair Queen Witte, 18, said she wanted the crown to “mean more” than just waving and wearing her sparkly tiara.

The Little Princesses event, conducted at NineStar Connect, invited the young participants to celebrate their uniqueness and embrace their self-worth.

“I created this event to extend the platform of the fair queen,” Witte said. “The idea behind the evening is to spread the message that these girls are loveable, capable and worthy.”

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Witte worked with the Women’s Resource Center of Hancock County to create the event and invited 20 fifth-grade girls from across the county. The participants were treated to a makeover, danced, played games, heard from a motivational speaker and participated in a photo shoot.

“Sure, this is about having fun and feeling pampered,” Witte said. “But I wanted them to take away how special they are, no matter what.”

Executive Director Devon Kissick Kelly said Witte approached her several months ago about planning a special event to encourage young girls.

“She wanted to do more for the county than smile and wave,” Kissick Kelly said. “We’ve been working with her several months because she wanted to give back to the girls. She wanted them to feel beautiful.”

The 20 female students were identified by school counselors and invited to attend.

“We wanted to reach out to the girls who would benefit the most,” Kissick Kelly said. “This is about improving their self-esteem and self-image.”

Eleven-year-old Kareline Jones said she had been looking forward to the event all week.

“I wanted to come so bad,” Jones said while she was having her nails painted red. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.”

Her friend, Jayda Willis, also 11, said she was nervous to come but was looking forward to having her hair done.

“This whole day has made me feel so special,” Willis said. “I’m having so much fun.”

Witte said she hopes she’s started a tradition that will continue on after she hangs up her crown and heads to college.

“Hopefully, this will be something I can pass down to the next queen,” Witte said. “I’d love to see this even continue in the coming years.”

Local sponsors of the event included NineStar Connect, Walmart, Kroger and Bath & Body Works.