Young Ladies on a Mission to Succeed
Girls are the fastest growing population in the juvenile justice system, according to the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy.
But, said Helen Wade, founder and CEO of Young Ladies of Tomorrow, Inc., their needs often go unmet. Founded in 1993, Young Ladies of Tomorrow exists to provide young women (ages 14-17) with the skills, support, counseling and empowerment that they need to transition into adulthood successfully.
Wade believes that the term “juvenile justice system” can be misleading. Although some of the girls are detainees, many of them have come to the courts in other ways.
“Some of the girls come from families that are in severe need. Some have been separated from their families,” Wade said. “And some have exhibited some behavioral or truancy issues at school. Each young woman is different.”
YLOT provides the young women with tutors, mentors, career development seminars, and field trips—to teach them new skills and to expose them to new opportunities.
SHE'S NO FAIRWEATHER VOLUNTEER
Shalamar Fairweather started to volunteer with Young Ladies of Tomorrow in 2014.
“When I first began,” she said, “I would teach seminars and help students write narratives. Now we have fellows here and I am their supervisor.”
A native of Jamaica, Fairweather moved to the District a little more than a year ago. Now, she is an advocate for volunteer engagement.
“I think everyone needs to give back to their community," she said. "It’s really fulfilling. And you can gain a lot of skills from volunteering. My public speaking skills have increased since I started here. Plus, I have doubled up on my management skills.”
1. Love one-on-one interactions? Become a tutor!
2. Enjoy engaging with small groups? Facilitate a workshop or become a mentor.
3. Have extra space? Host a field trip or support an internship for a YLOT participant.
A DC native, fifteen year old Zatharia, also known as “Z,” has participated in the YLOT program for more than two years. She attends night school, where she is finishing high school.
What skills have you gained through the program?
We’ve searched for jobs, interviewed each other, resume writing. We have filled out job applications.
What has YLOT taught you?
I learned to help others. I learned to make good decisions. I learned to think before I do something. I used to smoke and do drugs. I used to not come in the house and listen to my mother. Young Ladies of Tomorrow taught me how to be a young lady.
What does the term “young lady” mean to you?
It is being respectful. Going to school every day. Not hanging with a bad crowd. Doing good things.