Every week, the White House honors an individual or organization as a Champion of Change, which they define as people doing extraordinary things to make a difference in their community. Earlier this month, the White House honored Girls Inc. as a Champion of Change, highlighting the organization’s work to prevent substance abuse. To represent the organization, LaKisha Bryant, Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Albany, Ga., went to the White House to participate in roundtable discussion about how to help girls avoid alcohol and drugs.
But here’s what’s really cool: She didn’t go alone. Instead she took along one her program’s peer educators – 12-year-old Ebony Pettway – a girl who Bryant says not only makes good decisions for herself, but also encourages other girls to do the same. And for Ebony, the event was life changing. “She [Ebony] told me she will remember her visit to the White House forever for the opportunity to share how girls like her can act as agents of change,” Bryant said.
In a recent blog post, Bryant explained Girls Inc.’s unique approach to substance abuse prevention:
Girls Inc. works with girls at critical ages when peers are becoming more influential, and helps them develop healthy responses to pressures from friends, boyfriends, media, and other sources. Currently, we focus on prevention with girls 11-14. We then provide opportunities for them to teach younger girls and their communities what they have learned.
Girls Inc. begins by addressing key ways and reasons girls use and abuse substances. For example, girls are more likely to be introduced to substances by an older boyfriend, so we talk about healthy relationships. Girls often initiate smoking to lose weight, so we help girls build a healthy body image. Our girls-only environment and supportive staff encourage honest and safe exploration of these topics.
At Like a Boss, we love to hear about girls like Ebony who are helping other girls stay strong – and make good choices for their bodies. You can learn more about how Champions of Change do “extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world” at the White House Web site – and even nominate someone you admire. Can you think of someone who deserves the honor?
For more, watch this video of LaKisha Bryant talking about the program:
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