Empowering girls

Published 7:40 am Friday, April 19, 2019

Rows of gift bags and nail polish in all colors lined the tables of the Farmville Train Station. There were golden balloons, tasty snacks and affirming messages written on paper that young women in the community got to choose and write for themselves.

More than two dozen mentors and organizers with We Understand Youth Outreach sought to communicate to girls in the Heart of Virginia that they are loved and that they have purpose.

More than 30 girls and more than 30 volunteers attended the annual Pretty N’ Pink event, which is in its fourth year.

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The event was held Saturday at the Farmville Train Station.

An important aspect of the event, Organizer Torrie Patterson said, was that each girl who participated was assigned to a mentor.

“The mentors provided them with a manicure and pedicure while getting to know them and identifying their positive qualities,” Patterson said. “The girl stayed with her mentor for the remainder of the day. We all ate together, which provided the girls an opportunity to meet other girls and mentors from different counties.”

During the day, Patterson said there was a workshop to teach young women about being open and honest about their real feelings, and understanding that most people share the same feelings but won’t always express them.

During another activity, Patterson and others read statements and asked if the statements were true for the girls individually.

“The purpose of this activity was to help the young girls see that they are not alone,” Patterson said.

The activity was personal at times, but Patterson said that didn’t necessarily make the girls uncomfortable. Rather, Patterson said they had fun expressing themselves.

Speaker Kavonda Jordon, who works as a counselor and who lives in Cumberland, related the theme of the outreach, which was to show how the girls’ environment, attitude, and personal drive could determine who they are from childhood to adulthood.

“We ended the program with boldly speaking positive affirmations while looking at ourselves in the mirror,” Patterson said. “I had each girl write down what they wanted to be at the beginning of the program then I had them stand in front of everyone with their head held high and boldly state it in present tense.”

For example, girls said boldly and loudly that they are a singer, or a surgeon, or anything else they wanted to be. For participants who were more shy, Patterson said everyone took turns saying their statements all together.

“I hope the girls left feeling more confident, beautiful (inside and out), more loved, and understand that they all have something to offer the world even at their young age,” Patterson said. “I want them to know that they are needed and someone depends on them.”

To learn more about We Understand Youth Outreach, visit https://www.facebook.com/weunderstandyouthoutreach/.