Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Mentoring Groups Helping Future Generations

Name: Daija Jackson
From: Marlton, NJ
Grade: High School Senior
School: Cherokee High School
Votes: 12

The area I have chosen to volunteer in is youth mentoring programs,
specifically in an international, non-profit mentoring organization
known as Girl Talk. I chose to be a part of this group primarily
because I wanted to prevent young, middle school girls from going
through many of the issues I faced at that age. I didn’t have
access to any mentoring groups like Girl Talk to teach me about
valuing myself as a young woman, or how to carry myself maturely on
social media. Especially for this generation, these social topics are
important for these girls to become knowledgeable about. I have
dedicated about two hundred hours in the last year to this group,
have haven’t regretted my decision one bit. As a leader and mentor
of Girl Talk, my biggest responsibility was to teach the middle
school girls a given lesson once a month about a social topic faced
around their age. These topics ranged from peer pressure, to
gossiping, to drugs and alcohol, and many others. I was also required
to play a “big sister” role to the girls, helping to feel more
comfortable in the judgmental society we live in. We promote
self-love and positivity each time we see their beautiful faces. In
addition to the meetings, the advisor of the group plans extra fun
activities for the girls to get to know each other a little bit more.
These activities could include bowling, craft nights, and sleepovers.
I was responsible for attending these events as well.

The biggest challenge being a volunteer, especially for Girl Talk, is
attending everything while still handling the activities and
academics I’m dedicated to outside of the girl group. Some nights,
I may not be able to make a craft night or dinner due to a heavy load
of homework due the next morning, or having to work a late night
shift. Other nights, I have sacrificed the little time I needed to
study to attend meetings, keeping in mind that these girls only get
these lessons once a month. The demand for this group isn’t very
high at all, but as a mentor, you begin to feel more obligated to
attend as much as you can for the sake of the girls. As challenging
as it may be, it has been very awarding. I’ve been given the
opportunity to see these girls grow with the lessons we’ve taught
them, and have even witnessed them giving our advice to the new girls
that begin attending Girl Talk. It has been satisfying that in two
years, this group has made an impact in our community. In the future,
I definitely see this group expanding into other local communities.
The girls now being mentored will become amazing mentors to the new
middle school girls. As stated previously, it has been an honor being
a mentor of the group, and though it is not in alignment with my
career choice, mentoring the girls will help me outside of that.

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