Local group strives to help young African American girls

Group helps young African American girls

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Wednesday marks the first day of Black History month, and one local organization is taking advantage of the opportunity to reach the young African American female generation.

Sisters Informing Healing Living and Empowering, or SIHLE, is an organization that strives to reach African American girls ages 14-18 and empower them to make the right decisions.

Teen educators teach these young girls how to embrace their gender and make the right decisions.

These girls are at a higher risk for teen pregnancy and contracting HIV than any other group, but SIHLE is on a mission to help these young girls become responsible adults.

"I think it's important that they know that they have some say so in relationships, how to recognize signs of abuse, and also how to manage themselves," said teen educator Danielle Allen.

SIHLA is an African word meaning beauty, and that is the message being taught by the organization. Young girls choosing to participate will attend four classes that teach them how to embrace who they are and make the right decisions.

"I have a younger sister of course, and with the information that I got I would like to of course get it across to her but also to help other teens in our area about STDs and HIV and healthy relationships," said teen educator Elsie Thibodeaux.

The organization is a place for girls to turn instead of reaching out to their peers. The classes will be taught by Brown and Thibodeaux, both trained teen educators. At 19, both are now providing a resource they wish had been available to them.

"I wish I would have you know at this age, well younger, wish I would have had someone that taught me such as the SIHLA organization, teaching me how to become a young adult, but now that I have been informed and I've been helped and educated, I want to educate and help other girls," said Allen.

"It's important because most people depend on family and not everybody has family that they can go to," said Thibodeaux. "So basically we're here to help them to tell them they don't have to go to a friend and even if they don't have family they can depend on that there are things out there that they can get help and get information from."

Adult facilitator Debra Guillory wants young African American girls to know that being informed is not only important, but it can save their lives.

The group is funded through a $75,000 dollar grant from the Louisiana Office of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control.

The classes begin on February 11.

For more information click here for a link to the SWLA center for Health Services.

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