Grove Baptist Church youth pastor Cardell Patillo speaks to three Suffolk teens, Trynity Anderson, Danyelle Honore and Kamarie Jewette, during an event for girls the church held on Tuesday, called “I Love ME!”

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Girls learn to love themselves

Published 10:02pm Wednesday, February 13, 2013

An event at Churchland’s Grove Baptist Church on Tuesday taught girls, including some from North Suffolk, to appreciate their “unique gifts” and make healthy and positive life decisions.

I Love ME!, as the event was named, included games, workshops, food, gifts and other activities. Girls even participated in a mass Zumba session.

Youth pastor Cardell Patillo said one of the main reasons many girls these days are feeling pressured is because “we have allowed media and the social network to set the standards.

“We try to let them know to set their own limits and boundaries. The only boundaries are the ones they set themselves.”

Kamarie Jewette, a John Yeates Middle School eighth-grader, said, “I used to struggle with people not knowing who I was because of the way I did my hair. After coming here and talking to the leaders … the helped me realize that I know what I am, so I don’t let people define me.”

Trynity Anderson, a seventh-grader at John Yeates, said a lot of girls like her face low self-esteem.

“As girls get older, they start wanting to be like other people, but they feel that they can’t,” she said.

Focusing on herself and “not everybody else” has been her way of overcoming the problem, she said.

Danyelle Honore, who lives in Suffolk but attends Churchland High as a sophomore, named peer pressure and acceptance as problems for girls.

Fear of rejection and the need to be accepted can lead to bad decisions, she said. “Girls are afraid of being themselves because they might be judged for being one way,” she said.

A hall at the church was decorated with balloons and streamers for the event. A series of stations lined the walls.

Girls were encouraged to look at themselves in a full-length mirror and declare three things they love about who they are.

Another station included “gifts they might normally expect to receive from boys on Valentine’s Day … and little gifts that they could select for themselves, to show love to themselves,” the church’s Kathy Gaillard wrote in an email.

Patillo said, “We pretty much want them to know how valuable they really are.”

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