One year in a teenage girl’s life can bring a lifetime of changes. Village of Truth, Inc. of Los Angeles County is working to make sure that those changes are positive. Founder and Executive Director, Kiana Shaw is a hands-on mentor armed with real world advice, a cell phone and texting thumbs to help navigate the drama teenage girls can bring.
“We are a nonprofit organization that values the presence of strong, ambitious women in society,” said Shaw. ”Our mission is to encourage the development of inner-city teen girls through providing the resources needed to obtain financial stability, ensure mental growth, enhance physical health, attain emotional strength and receive professional guidance.”
The one year program is geared to teaching young ladies how to:
- Establish and use credit responsibly
- Set and reach goals
- Live healthy and drug-free lifestyles
- Cope with past hurts
- Manage future disappointments
Shaw believes that those skills are the foundation of Village of Truth, Inc. and a self-sufficient life. “The young ladies of greater Los Angeles County are facing a difficult task ahead,” said Shaw. “They are faced with drugs, gang violence, prostitution, and a lack of efficient sex education that focus on prevention of STD’s and pregnancy. Add this to drug dealers on their campus, single-parent homes, foster care, violence, sexual and mental abuse, and you will understand why so many of these girls see no hope in themselves.”
Shaw meets with each group of girls a few times per week. “We meet in schools, churches, and sometimes even my own house,” said Shaw. “Sometimes, I only have one shot to get in with a girl and give her as much information as I can in this moment because I may not see her again. You just don’t know what will happen next week with some of these ladies. My job is to affect (appeal to their emotions) and effect (change their lives) them as fast as possible. They have to know you care right away.”
“I want the girls to take responsibility for their lives and the choices they make. I tell them all the time, ‘we all have choices and all of our choices have consequences’. Positive choices bring consequence just like negative ones do. I try to stress that to them in every area of life not matter how complex or simple. Teaching them to be dressed by7amevery morning helps them be prepared for whatever opportunities the day will bring is a small but important concept.” Shaw said. “I’ll show up at their house at 7:30 am and only those who are ready and dressed get to go with me. Sometimes, we go and have breakfast on the beach. Other times, I will take them to do something they have been wanting to do or to meet with someone in the career they want have. It’s all about being ready to roll. You never know when life is going to give you an opportunity.
I do a radio show on Blogtalk Radio teaching parents and teens how to communicate. We had a couple of girls who want to be rappers,” Shaw said. “They started a rap one day, and I told them if they could finish it and practice it I would use it as a jingle on the show. They did a good job and we recorded it in a studio. It was a great opportunity to show them how hard work pays off, and what it takes to get something done.”
Shaw believes that being ready takes a plan, and she is equipping young ladies with the skills to achieve their plans in life. “A young woman will want to be a model but have no idea what kind of work goes on behind the scenes. Those women work hard to achieve their dreams. Sometimes they think success starts at 40. I teach a class called “Meeting with Success” where I introduce them to women 18 – 40 who are already successful and are willing to tell them about the hardships of getting to where they are.
So far, over 100 young ladies have been impact throughVillageofTruth, Inc. “It’s about helping them focus their goals and provide them with fundamental tools to go after their dreams. ,” said Shaw. “Each dream can be a triumphant reality by simply showing them there is more to life than what they see and where they live and each of their dreams can come true with hard work and perseverance.
Shaw was laid off in February of last year and has kept Village of Truth, Inc. going with generous donations and by volunteering her time. “I keep putting out applications, but I think this is where God wants me right now,” Shaw said. Eventually she hopes to have a Village of Truth, Inc. program in every major city.
Learn More about the Village of Truth or find ways to get involved or donate to the cause by visiting http://www.villageoftruth.org
Listen to The ShawNuff Radio show http://www.blogtalkradio.com/callywood/2012/04/10/mystery-mix-mondays
Kiana Shaw did GOOD today