Program helps girls look forward to goals

Published 7:19 pm Saturday, April 14, 2012

Barbara Warren Jones, vice president and program chair of the Zeta Epsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. of Suffolk, talks with girls in the Emerging Young Leaders program about their plans for the future. On the left is Trinity Johnson, and on the right is Arryan Faulk.

One by one, the girls in the Emerging Young Leaders program talked about their goals.

Pediatrician, geneticist, nail stylist and social worker all were named as possible career choices. The girls talked about how their choices now will affect their ability to be able to reach their chosen professions.

The Emerging Young Leaders program, in which eight middle-school girls are involved this year, is run by the Zeta Epsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. of Suffolk.

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Sorority members meet monthly with the girls for workshops on civic engagement, academics, community service, financial management, etiquette, public speaking and more.

“I really think it’s giving them an opportunity to communicate with adults other than their teachers,” said Barbara Warren Jones, vice president and program chair for the sorority.

The program partnered with the Boys and Girls Club this year, starting in January. It initially was supposed to run in John F. Kennedy Middle School during the day, but not enough sorority members were able to take time from work.

Someone suggested they contact the Boys and Girls Club, which runs daily after school at JFK and is open to students from all schools.

“It’s critical for those girls,” said Reggie Carter, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Suffolk. “They’re at that fork in the road where they make choices about where they want to be in life.”

Carter said he has noticed behavior changes in some of the students since they began participating.

The girls themselves agree.

“It’s helped me calm down and be more civil,” Donielle Blake said.

“It helps if you get frustrated,” said Jaquanda Arline. “It helps you calm down.”

Trinity Johnson said she’s getting better grades in school and becoming “a better person” because of the program. She also learned to save money, rather than spend it, she said. The girls all received piggy banks to help them toward that goal.

The girls also keep journals and discuss what they have written with the program leaders. In addition, they learned about the importance of community service by putting together care packages for residents of a local nursing home.

On the first Thursday in April, the girls sat down with Johnson and Avis Blow, another sorority member, and talked about their career goals. They also talked about ways to improve themselves and stay out of trouble so they can achieve those goals.

The discussion turned toward teen dating, and the girls asked Johnson when she had been allowed to date and when she allowed her daughters to go out with boys.

“We try to be good role models for them,” Johnson said.

For more information on getting involved in the program, call the Boys and Girls Club at 934-0349.