BOYS & GIRLS CLUB: Teen girls participate in Proud to Be Me Summit

Jun. 02, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

In the game room of the local Boys & Girls Club office, teenage girls asked questions and raised their hands to share their hopes, concerns and dreams Saturday. 

More than 50 young women participated in a two-day Proud to Be Me Summit at the Boys & Girls Club of Sanford-Lee County, which ended Saturday. The girls, from various areas in Central Carolina, attended sessions which focused on learning about themselves, setting goals and the media's perception toward women. There were also mini-sessions that discussed relationships, growing up in a single-parent home and self esteem, said Boys & Girls Club Unit Director Dana Petty, who organized the inaugural summit.

"It's designed to empower and enrich young ladies to become better citizens," she said. "We want them to learn to set goals and let go of the past to move forward with a successful future."

The girls met with other women in the community who shared their testimonies and offered advice on making better decisions, Petty said.

"I want them to learn we all have issues, but not to let that hold you back from what you should be," she said. 

The summit was open for girls from 12 to 18, and Petty said she wanted to target the teenagers because of the changes they would be going through.

"That's the most important age," she said. "It's a very influential time in their lives."

Petty said she wanted to host the summit to help area girls flourish as they entered adulthood.

"I hope they take away the tools to be successful," she said. "They can let go of past issues, move on and focus on their wants and needs."

Lee County student Chere Johnson, 12, said her favorite part of the seminar was when the group participated in a Zumba workout, but that she learned if you want something you've got to work hard and obtain it.

Samiya Kinney, 12, said she was learning a lot about setting goals and determining what she wanted to do in the future.

"They teach you about yourself," she said. "And to not let anything hold you back."

The Zumba and step show were two favorites for 12-year-old Da'Nija Quick, but she said she also learned a lot from the different speakers. 

"It's teaching young ladies to believe in yourself and if you want something, you can't let what others say bring you down," she said.

The girls ended the summit Saturday night with a step and dance show, and they were awarded for their hard work, said Boys & Girls Phenomenal Girls Coordinator Janesa Matta.

"We held the summit to build their confidence and so they can find out who they are," she said. "They see they can do anything they set their minds to."