Young girl starts mentoring program

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2009

There was something troubling Nikki Donovan.

The Nansemond River High School senior was taking stock of the young women in her community and noticed there was something important missing.

“I was just sitting there thinking one day and I realized a lot of young girls do not have any role models, any one to look up to,” Donovan said. “There is a lot of negative out there, but not a lot of positive.”

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It did not take Donovan long to think of way to fix the problem. She would start a young women’s mentoring program – recruiting friends, classmates and church members to serve as role models for young girls ages 10 to 16.

“These girls are my inspiration,” Donovan said. “I want to help.”

Piece by piece, Donovan’s mentoring group came together.

They started with a name – Just Us Gurlz. Then they got a place to meet.

Donovan’s godfather, who is an elder at Capernaum Seventh Day Adventist Church, spoke with the church’s pastor to allow the group to have a place to meet every Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The church’s congregation even reached out, asking its young women to participate in the program as potential mentors.

From there, Donovan and her group of 15 mentors began planning different activities for Just Us Gurlz.

Throughout the summer, the mentors will go over various issues such as self-confidence, appropriate dress and personal responsibilities while also having fun with activities, games and field trips.

Finally, last weekend Donovan’s friends helped put together brochures and flyers for the group’s meetings, and hit the streets to tell young girls of the meeting times.

“I like helping people to do better,” said Alli Hamilton, a volunteer with Just Us Gurlz. “I hope more people come out instead of girls hanging in the streets and acting up in school. I hope they better themselves.”

Tuesday night, more than a dozen young women were meeting in the church’s sanctuary playing icebreaker games, getting to know one another and meeting with their mentors.

“You’ve had to learn everybody’s name and what they like,” 14-year-old Andrea Foster. “It’s fun to meet people. It’s an experience to learn girl stuff.”

Eleven-year-old Tatiana McMichael said she was excited to have somewhere to just hang out with girls her own age.

“It’s just for girls,” McMichael said. “It’s an opportunity for us to have some fun. I want (other girls) to experience what we have here.”

Donovan said the mentoring sessions will be held every Tuesday throughout the summer, and, if successful, she’ll think about expanding them into the school year. Her ultimate goal, though, is not the group’s longevity, but the impact it has on the girls.

“I want the girls to better themselves as ladies,” Donovan said. “We see a lot of girls losing focus, getting pregnant, falling into worldly things. I just think it’s better for them to learn now on how to live right.”