To the Editors:

It was three years ago when I first heard about Sarah Beach’s new effort, “STRONG. The Magazine for Girls.” We had children the same age and our daughters would become close friends later, but at the time, I had not yet met her. As a writer myself, I was eager to do what I could to help with this new and exciting initiative.

I remember sitting across from her at the Coffee Barn and though I worked a full-time job at a newspaper, marveling at her energy and optimism at making STRONG a reality. She had very little in the way of administrative support, and most of the tasks at the end would fall to her. Still, she had her folders and her system and after that meeting, I fully believed she’d set out to accomplish all she intended. All, incredibly, without advertising.

Sarah did that and more. Throughout the last three years, STRONG issues appeared regularly, filled with beautiful photography and important and inspiring topics. This was no shallow, celebrity-infused glossy publication filled with instructions on how young women could beautify and objectify themselves. It wasn’t providing them with vapid role models and unachievable superficial goals to ultimately damage self-esteem.

Instead, STRONG introduced young women in Wilton and elsewhere to peers growing up internationally. It covered tough-to-talk-about topics like educating young women about their periods and how to say no to destructive habits and behaviors.

The most recent summer 2020 issue was published digitally only and covered the difficult time we are currently facing. It included a feature on pandemic artwork, a discussion with women on the front lines, a sharing of stories from young women around the world on coping with lockdown, addressing the Black Lives Matter movement, and more.

Certainly, no effort is a vacuum and knowing Sarah, I’m sure she’d be the first to say she had help from her family and friends. But this magazine was her vision and her hard work. Recently, Sarah announced that STRONG had published its last issue. The magazine largely relied on school and library subscriptions, Sarah wrote in her announcement to readers, and the pandemic, the cause of so much damage to small-business efforts, had caused those to suffer greatly. Her closing letter alone is well worth the read on STRONG’s Facebook page.

This letter is simply to thank Sarah for the gift of STRONG — for as long as she gave it, in between her active role in Wilton Children’s Theater and many other efforts. It was beautiful, significant and powerful. Most of all, it acknowledged and recognized the importance of providing information and role models to our young women. And even more importantly, it gave them a platform to amplify their own voices, needs and concerns, in Wilton, and beyond.

STRONG may have closed publication, but I believe its long-lasting impact has only just begun to reveal itself as this generation of young women continues to grow, evolve, and become our future.

Susan Shultz