NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Participants in one Middle Tennessee camp are learning more than just arts and crafts.
P.L.E.A.S.E.S strives to teach girls valuable life lessons. The name means Positive Leaders Embracing And Structuring Each Sister.
The nonprofit organization is the brainchild of Aretha Howard, who started the organization in 1996. The organization focuses on the empowering girls ages 10-19.
Campers review academic subjects; the younger girls also do arts and crafts while their older counterparts are taking notes.
"When you hear negative comments in your head, ‘I don't like who I am', ‘I don't like my size, I'm too heavy, I'm too thin,' you have to know how to go inside yourself and change that," said Howard, the founder and CEO during the second annual Summer of Sisterhood workshop held at Nashville's Prince Hall Masonic Association.
"We're just trying to build a sisterhood for these females to let them know you don't have to be angry at each other," Howard said.
Many of the girls first met Howard when she was brought in by Metro Schools to speak to them of her experiences. She was molested as a child and became pregnant at 13. During the workshop, she shared some of the pressures she experienced "just to show them that even though you go through trials and tribulations, you can still come out on top and you don't have to be your situation."
The young ladies get it.
"Before, I would snap off at anybody," said an older teenager. "But now I just let people say what they want to say, do what they want to do. I'm just going to ignore them because they can't get me down no more."
Another young lady said that she had a lot of anger problems, but she's learned to handle them.
"I've learned to be a little more subtle in my ways," she said.
Howard pays for the program. She would love not only financial assistance but also volunteers.
"This program is more than just a girl's program, I want it in every city from Bucksnort to Africa," Howard said. "I want it everywhere that there's a female that has an issue, where there's a parent who wants a better relationship with their daughters."