Among the activities were a cakewalk, a ring toss, and a dance contest, and in addition food was provided and the youths heard from speakers who talked to them about different career choices and such subjects as the importance of being good role models and having good self-esteem.
“Today we’re having the end of the year party,” said Shannon Matthews-White, a member of the Girl Power group.
Girl Power is a program through the Court-Designated Worker program, and is run with the help of the ASK Resource Center, said White, adding that both the Girl Power and Fantastic Male groups are for youths ages 9 – 14, and that the aim of the group is to teach them how to live a clean life.
White said Cadiz City Council Member Regenia Wilkerson-Jasper asked her about starting the group about 12 years ago as a way of building up self-esteem for students who are in middle school.
“So we went ahead and started if off as a club that met every month,” White said. “We sort of stopped for about four or five years, then we started back two years ago, and we started up with it being an everyday thing for girls who might have issues with self esteem.”
White said and others want students to know that the community cares about the students, and added that this year, they decided to start an equivalent group for boys of the same age, the group known as Fantastic Males.
For both groups, the students have to have good grades, and although they don’t have to have only A’s and B’s they can’t fail their classes, said White, who added that the group will try to get tutors for them if necessary.
“If they continue to get in trouble, everybody makes mistakes and we give them a chance or two, depending on the severity of what’s going on,” White said, though she continued on, saying that the students continue to go to AC or are expelled, they are no longer in the group.
Jason Jones, one of the members of Fantastic Males, said being in the group has been good for him, and one of the reasons cited was that students are rewarded for good behavior and good scholarship. Just after Christmas, they went to the Lake Barkley Lodge, which Jones said was fun.
“It gives you someone who will actually listen to you,” Jones said. “It’s basically a group that’s going to help you cope with things that are going on in the community.”
Robyn Wadlington is a member of the Girl Power group and said the group has helped her any a few ways since she joined.
“I don’t get into trouble that often anymore, my grades are up,” Wadlington said. “My life’s better, it’s been a good thing for me.”