Each week, approximately eight to 10 girls from the Friendship Court community come together at the community center for an after-school mentoring program taught by Community Center Coordinator, Jessica Eldridge. Jessica, the founder of Impact My Life Mentoring, LLC says, “I believe even the slightest positive influence has the potential to change a child’s life.”
Starting in the fall of 2017 Jessica has led the girls in empowering activities and discussions about what it means to have self-confidence and self-esteem. During one of their discussions, the girls talked about how to distinguish between a friend and a frenemy (someone who acts as a friend, but when not around you, they do unfriendly things behind your back).
During another activity, the girls went outside and took five pictures of themselves, or five selfies, to create a group selfie art gallery. Then the girls wrote down a compliment about themselves on each picture. This small gesture allowed them time to think about who they are and how they are important, finding something to celebrate about themselves and share with others. On Diamond Keyes’ picture she wrote, “I like myself because I have a good personality and I am pretty, and I won’t think differently.”
In January, the girls focused on New Year’s resolutions and what they hope to accomplish in the New Year. Many of them talked about how they hope to do well in their next quarter of school and how they want to work towards getting good grades. Then, in February, they celebrated “Galentine’s Day,” an unofficial holiday held on the day before Valentine’s Day in which ladies, young and old, celebrate themselves and others. In that session, they discussed the importance of making and having good friends as well as what types of characteristics they like to find in a good friend. They discussed positive qualities about themselves and how it felt when they looked in the mirror. Then the girls designed their own personal mirrors with paint, glitter, and stickers and enjoyed a meal together.
Jefferson Area CHIP has been partnering with the group as well. Their mission is to partner with families to create nurturing home environments and promote the health and well-being of children in our community. Jessica says the girls have been enjoying their insight into their discussions and it also allows them room to interact with different people whom they’ve never met before – adults and young girls alike.
Jessica says, “The goal in teaching this program is for the girls to create a space that is all their own where they are free to express themselves in the way that they want without judgement from other people.”
She added that she has had some very proud moments so far with the girls and that she hopes to keep up the mentoring sessions for the foreseeable future.