Two events this weekend are aimed at area teens to help them gain confidence and self-esteem.
The event for boys, “Gentlemen.Intelligent.Amazing.New Talents.Service.,” or G.I.A.N.T.S, will be held at 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday at the Robert Khayat Law School in Room 1090.
Topics will include peer pressure, choosing to stand out, being a leader, knowing your purpose or passion, being your own boss and being an active role model.
The girls’ event, “Positive Encouragement and Reassuring Lessons on Self-Love,” or PEARLS, will be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, also at the Law School in Room 1090.
Both events are free and geared toward students in seventh-12th grade.
The PEARLS program was first started by a group of local women — the late Jacqueline Certion, Tonya Woods, Melissa Buford, Loretta Clark and Dee White.
“We saw the need for our girls needed positive reenforcement in their everyday life,” Woods said, who works as a secretary at the Lafayette Middle School Counseling Center and the L Hodges Funeral home.
The first PEARLS event was held in 2018.
Shortly after, Woods told her husband she wanted to do something for the young men in the community as well.
“I was leaving the funeral home and passed a barbershop and the Spirit just told me to go back inside and ask for a small donation,” Woods said. “Each man in there gave me $5. I was able to put it together in a week.”
During the first event, there were about 65 boys in attendance.
Woods credited the Lafayette County School District for its support of the event by having teachers encourage students to attend.
Because of COVID-19, the two events were canceled in 2020 and 2021.
Woods said she knew it was time to bring the event back after reading a story in the news a couple of weeks ago about fighting going on between students at the Oxford Activity Center.
“That was our safe place growing up,” Woods said. ‘When I saw that, that bothered me. I knew it was time to bring back the events.”