Saving Our Sisters: It’s More Than Just Girl Talk

Adolescence. The time when girls give up their dolls, and start thinking about boys. We can’t stop the march of time, although many fathers wish they could. But when a girl becomes a teenager, her thoughts turn to more grown-up aspirations. The adolescent years can be scary for both the girls and their parents. How do I have “the talk” with her? When is the right time to have “the talk?” How do I explain that I made mistakes when I was her age? These are all questions that boggle a parent’s mind as they watch their daughter grow and develop into a young woman. Sadly, too many parents are afraid to have the talk with their daughters, leaving them to find out the facts of life through movies, their peers, and by making the life altering mistakes.
In 2007, the founder of radio station JZ 94.5, Rip Daniels decided it was time to bring awareness to the alarming rate of teen pregnancies. Mississippi has the highest rate in the nation, and that contributes to the states equally alarming high infant mortality rate as well. Daniels hosted his own morning radio talk show. One day, the subject came up about some teenagers who had made a pregnancy pact. The girls all agreed that they would do whatever it took to get pregnant during the school year. “They thought it was cute to have a baby bump,” said Tamara Wingerter, the radio stations general sales manager. “They were actually envious of the girls at school who were pregnant!” This so outraged the radio owner that he knew he had to do something about it. So, in 2008, Daniel’s radio team contacted college sororities to see if they would like to host an event for teens and their mothers, aunts, grandmothers and fathers to educate young women about the dangers and life-long problems reacted to getting pregnant during their teen years.
Saving Our Sisters is in its fifth year of providing an entire day of workshops and presentations by a panel of experts at the Coast Coliseum. Volunteers from the Gulf Coast Youth Rites of Passage and local sorority chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta , Sigma Gamma Rho, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority offer frank and honest discussions and information on teen sexuality, dating violence, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and a myriad of topics that are pertinent to adolescent development. Concerned adults bring their teenaged loved ones to share in the discussions and both learn how to have that very important talk with each other. Studies have shown that both parents and teens alike thirst for help in addressing these issues. Communities are eager to break the cycle of teen pregnancy and its adverse impact on the local economy and social well-being. “We will have workshops just for moms, just for teens and special workshops for teen mothers,” Tamara said. The girls learn about self-esteem and respecting their bodies. It’s a time for learning how to communicate and learn how to make healthier choices. And it’s not all heavy topics. There will be an expo of local resources and help organizations, and entertainment by local youth performers. And if that isn’t enough, this year’s summit will end with a special guest appearance from TV star Toya Wright from BET’s Toya, A Family Affair and Tiny and Toya, and author of “Priceless Inspirations.” Toya will talk about her journey through the pain of being a teenage mother who struggled to raise a child while still a child herself.
The 5th Annual Saving Our Sisters summit will be held on May 5th. The event is free. For more information, contact Tamara Wingerter at 228-896-5307 ext. 118 or email Tamara@wjzd.com.

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