Wednesday, September 4, 2013

L.I.L.I.E.S. and R.E.E.D.S. Society, Oklahoma City

Latasha Howell,
Founder & CEO,
L.I.L.I.E.S. & R.E.E.D.S. Society

Today's goals: 1) to demonstrate fruits of past mentoring and 2) to highlight the mission of a strong, caring young woman who wants to help teen mothers and fathers. 

Circa 1983, Dr. Norma Leslie was working with pregnant students and teen mothers at the then all-female Emerson Alternative School in Oklahoma City.  Latasha Howell was a young at-risk woman, whom Leslie mentored.  In addition to telling a teenager what was happening to themselves and their bodies and later what their babies and they themselves needed, Leslie constantly told the teens to “be something, do something” and reenforced self-esteem, confidence, goal-setting and achievement.  Without the support, instruction, resources and encouragement of Leslie’s program, Howell might have turned out differently according to the statistics for teen moms, of whom most do not graduate and many never lift themselves and their children out of poverty. 

In 2009, Howell decided to give back so she worked at the Putnam City Academy, primarily just talking to young women from her own experience.  Last year after three years at PCA, however, she returned to Emerson, where she worked with twenty-five girls at the school with over 300 at-risk students.  Emerson’s principal Sheryl Kishore requested that boys be included, and L.I.L.I.E.S. and R.E.E.D.S. Society was created.  Now over 150 teen mothers attend Emerson.                            

ighlights of the L.I.L.I.E.S. and R.E.E.D.S. Society’s mentoring program include:
  • Meetings once a week
  • Participating in activities, e.g., bond-building through the Shiloh ropes course, rock climbing, horseback riding, etc.
  • Volunteering at nonprofits
  • Mentoring to instill that Teen Moms and Dads do have potential to succeed
  • Reflective writing, e.g., journaling, essay contests to participate in field trips, letters to their children, etc.  Sample essay themes:
    • “How are you a leader in your home?”
    • “How has your child improved your life?”
  • Wearing LILIES and REEDS Society T-shirts on all field trips
  • Recognizing the Teen Moms and Dads for their achievements
  • Honoring achievement with certificates
  • Job shadowing

"LILIES and REEDS SOCIETY’s main purpose is to lower teen pregnancy statistics by filling students with wisdom through mentoring, volunteer work, and fun-filled activities that will encourage them to mentor other young students."

"Lilies and Reeds Society Teen Parent Mentoring Program of Oklahoma helps to empower youth in our community to make positive life choices that enable them to maximize their potential.  The mentoring program uses adult volunteers to commit to supporting, guiding and being a friend to a young person for a period of at least one year.  We are a social network of adults and community members who care about the youth and can help them develop and reach positive academic, career, and personal goals."

“Behind resentment is a request or a desire. Behind anger is fear.” 

Dr. Leslie, who now lives in Tempe, Arizona, is a board member of L.I.L.I.E.S. and R.E.E.D.S. Society.

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