The Academy, held October 10th, consists of programs that teach the participants both life skills and life enrichment. Once again we held the event at Samarkand Manor, though this may be the last time it is held here because I believe that it is being shut down and the residents transferred to a facility in Siler City.
There were 17 girls who participated in the workshop this time around. When the girls arrive they are paired up with a JLMC "buddy" who will participate in the workshops with them. The first workshop, led by Lee Holbrook, took the participants through a series of Tai Chi exercises ranging from turning balls in their hands to standing floor exercises focused on breathing.
The second workshop, "Strong Girls, Smart Choices", was led by JLMC member Tracy Land. This workshop is one of my all time favorites not only because it delivers such a great message but because Tracy is so open about her own life experiences during the session.
The workshop itself is about empowering girls to take control of their own futures and make smart choices. At the start of the workshop Tracy asks the girls if they want to go to college. Almost all of the girls raise their hands. Next She asks them how many of them think that will happen. Almost none of the girls raise their hands this time. Then she asks them what is keeping them from going to college. Answers to this question range from not having graduated high school, having a criminal record, and not being able to afford it. Tracy listens to all of these responses and tells the girls that none of that matters - they can still go to college.
Tracy shares how she came from a family that did not support her dream of going to college. No one in her family had ever been to college and they were all convinced that it was a waste of time. One day she went down to the local community college, walked up to the front desk and said to the receptionist "I want to go to College. What do I need to do?" That women then became one of her guides and helped her to fill out her application, take her placement exam, and fill out all of the financial aid paperwork. By the next day Tracy was attending college and now she has a Master's degree from Duke University.
Tracy helped to show these girls that they can be the person they want to be simply by choosing to do so. "I will be the person I choose to be" is the theme of the presentation and she reinforces this by talking about making sure that you are safe, taking action towards your goals, and finding mentors or "guides" that you respect to help you if you get off track.
It is just so great to see the girls react so positively to the program. At the end of the day everyone took a quick personality test using jelly beans and each girl received a goody bag along with a certificate of completion. If you would like more information on the JLMC and our projects you can visit our new website at http://www.jlmcnc.org/. Here are some pictures from the day. Enjoy!