By Mark Carpenter
There is an old saying that goes, “there are things that you just can’t learn in school.” A group of teenage girls ages 11-14 from all over Adams County have found that to be true as part of a 14-week Life Skills class sponsored by Sheriff Kimmy Rogers and a group of dedicated volunteers. That program culminated last Friday with a full day of celebration beginning with some pampering in the Cosmetology Lab at the Ohio Valley CTC and ending with a big meal at the Murphin Ridge Inn.
“This has probably been one of the best programs I have ever been involved in, not because of me but because of the volunteers that have done such a wonderful job with these kids,” said Sheriff Rogers at the Murphin Ridge stop. “Most of the time that I get a call it means that something is on fire, and the more prevention education like this that we do, the less fires we have in the future. We hope to continue this program with volunteers with boys next time. We have 25 kids in here so if we do this 25 times, we’ve touched 250 lives.”
“It was amazing sometimes. We had these Life Skills classes on Saturdays and myself and my deputies picked up all the kids and got them there. If I was just a few minutes late, I would start getting messages asking where I was. Everybody in the community really stepped up to help us get this done.”
One of the volunteers that Rogers spoke of was Radah Brown, who taught her group of girls at the Adams County Regional Medical Center.
“ Sheriff Rogers had talked to one of our previous hospital CEO’s about a program and being a youth leader at my church, we had done some projects together before,” said Brown. “I got some of my friends together to take over these classes. We met the girls, loved the girls, and it’s just basically teaching them how to handle situations. Some of these girls have dealt with some serious things and had some hardships in life, but they are all ‘overcomers”. This was about teaching them how to handle anxiety, how to face anger issues, and how to resolve conflict the right way.”
“We wanted them to show that they are intelligent and creative girls. They are a great group of kids, they have just had some obstacles in their lives. We did some projects as part of the class, my group did a project and donated socks to the Homeless Shelter and it touched them tremendously. The whole project showed them that there are people out there who care and we have all made lifelong friends. This was one of the best experiences I have ever had.”
The Friday finale began at the CTC as the girls got their hair and nails done, then moved on to Murphin Ridge where a room full of smiles and laughter was treated to those famous Murphin Ridge delicacies. The group also heard from three guest speakers as part of their graduation ceremony, local attorney Barbara Moore, Channel 12 reporter Angela Ingram, and Lisa Taylor from the office of the Ohio Lieutenant Governor.
Moore: “I already talked to some of you girls about being assertive. You can’t be victims, you have to say no when it’s time to say no. You are going to make the right decisions so you can be what you want to be and have your goals. It’s time to start now, start working towards those goals.”
Ingram: “It was so awesome to spend the day with you girls, a very uplifting day. People who tell you that you can’t do something are not the people you need in your life. When I said I wanted to be a news reporter, there were people who didn’t think I could do it because it is a tough business to get into. Twenty three years later those people who told me ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that’, well look what I am doing. There are so many people today who care about you and want you to grow up to be wonderful women. You can do whatever you want to do with no limitations. Eliminate those people who tell you no from your team, stay with people who uplift you and celebrate your accomplishments. Remember all the people here who invested in you.”
Taylor: “You are going to see many paths opening up in front of you as you grow older and it’s your choice which path you choose. Find a mentor who can help you guide you in those decisions. You’re going to make mistakes but learn from them. Give back to your community just like these people have done for you, find something that you are passionate about. People who tell me I can’t do something motivate me to prove them wrong, you do the same.”
At the graduation ceremonies at Murphin Ridge, the girls were recognized individually with certificates of completion, then loaded back up into vans and cars and headed back home, hut leaving with a new sense of pride and a new confidence in life, one that will help them be as successful as they strive to be.