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Let girls be girls

Published 10:37pm Thursday, February 14, 2013

Being a kid in today’s world can be a tough gig — for boys and girls. But it was nice on Tuesday to see a church hold an event to help girls find their way.

I Love ME! as the event was called, was held at Grove Baptist Church. Although it’s in Churchland, many North Suffolk families attend the church.

The idea behind the event was to help girls aged 8 to 18 learn how to love themselves in the face of so many outside expectations and pressures, many of these from the mass media.

According to researchers, four in 10 girls will become pregnant at least once before reaching age 20.

Meanwhile, the proportion of children overweight has almost tripled in the past 20 years, to 14 percent. Girls have actually surpassed boys in smoking and prescription drug-misuse rates, and they match boys in alcohol and illegal drug use.

“Low self-esteem is one of the leading causes of depression, teen pregnancy and even suicide among our young people,” Grove senior pastor Melvin O. Mariner stated.

“We want to encourage our young girls, remind them of how special they are, and show them how to love and respect themselves.”

Scores of girls attended the event on Tuesday. They got their daily dose of exercise with a Zumba class, and then enjoyed healthy smoothies and received information on exercise and good health.

Set up around the room, which was colorfully decorated with balloons and streamers, was a series of stations that girls could visit for other useful information and activities.

At one station, they wrote messages on balloons about why they love themselves, later releasing them into the air.

Cupcakes were also a popular part of the event.

Grove youth pastor Cardell Patillo said the media, especially social media like Facebook, is often to blame for the pressures girls face.

While also having the potential for lots of positive interaction, such websites can present pitfalls for anyone.

Posting a nasty message or something else online can seem much more innocent an activity than it actually is. Any communication that isn’t face-to-face can get lost in translation, also.

There was a fun vibe at the Grove event. It was an environment where kids could just be themselves, without having to worry about what others might think or feel pressured to behave older than their years.

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