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New mentoring program in Hagerstown for teen girls

Saturday - 2/11/2012, 5:10pm  ET

The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - About 25 local girls turned out Friday for the first ever "Girls Night In," a free event hosted by a new mentoring program in Hagerstown to help teenage girls make the right choices.

"The Girls Night In is a celebration of girls coming into womanhood and loving themselves, especially during the Valentine's Day season, where we're so forthright in giving our love to other people," said Angie St. Clair, an organizer of the event put on by Lead4Life, Inc.

"We're really going to teach young girls how to love themselves, and how to treat themselves like ladies," she said. "The whole night is really about the community coming together to celebrate girls, and for girls to make better choices with their minds and their bodies."

The event opened with a presentation by Shalom Black-Lane, executive director of Teens Have Choices, also known as the Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition.

During her talk, Black-Lane said that "sex has consequences," and the decisions young girls make now as teenagers can affect them later in life.

Black-Lane talked about contraceptives and birth control, but stressed that abstinence is the only way to be 100-percent safe from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

"We don't have a lot of opportunities to really get this kind of information out to the young ladies who really need to hear the facts about sex ...," Black-Lane said.

After Black-Lane's talk, the girls had the opportunity to get their hair, nails and makeup done in a makeshift "salon" and got to pick out several items from the "boutique," thanks to numerous volunteers in the beauty industry and generous donations from the community.

Pizza was also provided.

"It was fun," said Kyra, 12, as she ate some pizza.

The girls also made Valentine's Day cards to themselves to express who they are and their goals, and learned about self-expression in the form of poetry.

"It's important for girls to learn that they are worth something, and they can find beauty within themselves," said Branda Yeargan, an independent beauty consultant who volunteered at the makeup station.

Hoping to make it an annual gathering, St. Clair said the event was a collaborative effort of Lead4Life along with Blossom School of Etiquette, Girls Inc. and the recreation center, which donated the space to host it.

Lead4Life, which began in January 2011, matches at-risk girls and boys with mentors in the community to help the teens make good choices

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)