Norfolk, VA – July 23, 2004 – Drug abuse, dropping out of school, tobacco use, and teen pregnancy. These are things Michelle Griffin is hoping her 12-year old daughter, LaDawn, will avoid.
LaDawn Griffin has been playing basketball with about 160 other girls involved in a Sentara summer girls’ basketball league focussed on more than physical fitness.
With a recent $35,675 grant from Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation (VTSF), volunteers from Old Dominion University’s urban studies program and nurses from Sentara’s Community Health and Prevention Division have been trained to bring important messages to at-risk girls in Norfolk between the ages of 10 and 13.
Twice a week, the volunteers lead a discussion, helping the girls consider their futures and how they can positively shape them. The girls are encouraged to make public and private commitments about their futures and taught to avoid situations that put them at risk.
"I hope my daughter becomes more aware of the positive options she has," said Michelle Griffin. "I want her to have the confidence to say no."
"It’s very rewarding to see real changes in these girls," reflects Susan Tweed, RN, health educator with Sentara’s Community Health and Prevention Division. Tweed is overseeing the educational component of the program and has been involved since it’s inception in 1999. "I think this program will dramatically change these girls’ lives," she continued.
As the season comes to a close, division championships are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. July 29 at Sherwood Forest Recreation Center in Norfolk.
Sentara Family Care is a sponsor of the Sentara Family Care Summer Girls’ Basketball League. The program was launched five years ago to help educate at-risk girls about key health and wellness issues while providing them wholesome competition and character-building opportunities. A collaboration of Norfolk Neighborhood and Leisure Services Centers, Police Assisted Community Enforcement, Sentara Community Health and Prevention, Sentara Family Care, coaches, and volunteer educators from Sentara and Old Dominion University, the program has touched the lives of more than 1,000 girls in Norfolk.