The girls were pumped up. Waiting by the door, they admired each other’s dresses and talked about what they were going to do.When the white stretch limousine arrived, courtesy of Reynolds Limousine Service, the girls were ready to go. This was the big event they were preparing for: they were headed to a restaurant at the mall where they could read from the menu, order their own food and eat together at a table.“I can’t wait to see the restaurant and order my food,” said Brianna Shipp, 9, a third-grader at Merry Oaks International Academy Elementary School. “This is a first for a lot of these girls,” said Bridgett Moore, a third-grade teacher at Merry Oaks on Draper Avenue in Charlotte. With help from sponsors, Moore supplied all the dresses for the girls to wear.“I want them to experience what it’s like to get dressed up and eat out at a nice restaurant. It’s different than going out and ordering fast food.”Moore said the dinner excursion to Bravo was an etiquette lesson for the girls. She started the club three years ago to provide inner city-girls at her school with safe after-school activities. The 12 girls, ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade, participated in different learning experiences.“I call it ‘Pearls of Hope,’ ” said Moore. “I want to encourage and wait for each (girl’s) shell to open so I can discover the pearl hidden inside.”The program instills confidence and self-esteem, said Moore. Other activities included a manicure/pedicure trip, a photo shoot, riding horses and a sewing lesson.“My favorite was Monkey Joe’s,” said Mikayla McRae, 11. “We got to play with the other girls in Pearls of Hope.”“We get to enjoy ourselves,” added Reyna Abundis, 11, who said she liked the horseback riding and getting the group photo taken. “I got to play with others and learn how to have a positive attitude.”“I am an advocate for young children and I also want to be a mentor for these girls,” said Moore, who gets community sponsors to help but foots some of the cost herself. “Research shows that children who are engaged in learning and educational activities before and after school behave better in school and have improved work habits and higher aspirations.”“One of my ultimate goals in life is to spread the message of self-worth to young girls,” said Moore, also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. “I believe if you educate a girl, you are also educating a wife and a mother. Educating a mother impacts an entire family.”“It straightens you up and helps make you a girly girl,” said Zamiyah Harrison, 9, who said she liked the cupcakes and conversation meetings because “we got to talk about what we value,” things she didn’t think about earlier. “You learn stuff so you can change your actions.”
Sunday, Jun. 16, 2013
Pearls of Hope opens world to children
Carol Gifford is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Carol? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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