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Sisterhood On The Agenda For Mentoring Program

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DURHAM — "We shall overcome" is a song made famous during the Civil Rights struggle. Today, it could be the anthem for many young African American girls who must overcome low self-esteem, low expectations and a high teenage pregnancy rate. A mentoring program in Durham is helping overcome those problems through sisterhood.

Sisterhood Agenda's mission is to uplift and aid in the self-development of young girls and women of African descent.

Chataqua Jeter has learned a lot about black history, not just at school, but at the Sisterhood Agenda meetings she attends. She's also learned some things about herself.

"Sisterhood Agenda taught me that everyone has problems and if you open up, maybe someone can help you with that problem," Jeter says.

Sisterhood Agenda works with African American girls between the ages of 12 and 17. Sometimes they just gather to talk and learn, other times they come for a first in a lifetime experience.

The Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble is a prestigious African American theater company; the group took a field trip to Chapel Hill for the chance to see the ensemble perform.

For some, it was a cultural experience. For others, it could inspire career goals.

"I guess I've seen the Alvin Ailey dance company before," Jeter says, "but when I was younger and wasn't as interested in dance."

Program Director Monica Brown wants Sisterhood Agenda to expose young women to just that kind of eye-opening experience.

"I would have really hoped that they would see African Americans are making positive strides [and say] 'I can be a professional dancer if that's what I choose to be," she says.

"Most of the time when you're thinking about ballet or modern dance, you're not thinking of African Americans. You're thinking 'Well, that's a white thing to do.'"

Brown helps expose the young women to positive influences, positive role models like professional dancers or even herself.

"I just really try and be that role model," Brown says. "I try to show them, hey education is important and you know, with education, you can achieve a lot more and show them to be aware is not un-cool."

Sisterhood Agenda is a non-profit organization that receives funding from public grants and private donations.