High school program mentors young minority women to help them shine


"They get touched once a week," said co-lead Lisa Girdy. "And that's really important for the kids that are at risk as well as the ones who just don't know where to turn."

RESTON, Va. (WDVM) — On Friday, a classroom floor in South Lakes High School turned into lava. Well, figurative lava, that is.

“I mean, the first time we tried and we accomplished [the challenges], it was the best feeling ever, like, we were all able to do this despite the problems that we had,” said high school junior Teshauna Harvey.

Program facilitators from Empower Adventures visited South Lakes to challenge a group of students to complete a series of teambuilding exercises.

“Through the process, some of them got frustrated…some of them wanted to quit…but we try to make them push through,” said Administrative Assistant Angel Scott. Scott is the founder and co-leader of DIAMONDS, a group that meets weekly to mentor South Lakes’ young minority women in need.

Just as they pushed through their problems making a human chain across figurative lava, Scott and her co-lead Lisa Girdy want the young women to advocate for themselves in the classroom and in life. Scott, Girdy, and other administrative staff help the 15 diamonds with their assignments and homework, and meet with their teachers to facilitate better relationships.

“They get touched once a week,” said Girdy. “And that’s really important for the kids that are at risk as well as the ones who just don’t know where to turn.” Such a program didn’t exist when Girdy was a student at South Lakes. She says this is her way of giving back.

Scott and Girdy have seen significant attitude and behavior changes in Harvey and fellow diamond Autumn Wright.

“If there was a problem with somebody – mostly older than me, like an elder that I should respect – I felt that I should put them in their place. Now that I’m in DIAMONDS I understand a lot more than I would’ve. I understand why grownups do the things they do – why they tell us the things they tell us,” said Harvey.

Wright says she’s able to take a breath when she’s upset. “It helped me cope, like, have a low profile about it. I can talk to them about it after and instead of letting it become a big issue, just cope with it as a small issue so it’s not as dramatic.”

Harvey and Wright assumed leadership in Friday’s activities, and Harvey says she was able to communicate what she wanted from her teammates in a constructive way. “DIAMONDS taught me to be a good leader,” she said.

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