The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, June 18, 1998, Summer Edition, Page 7, Image 7

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    Photos by Kellie D. Bottrell/DN
Left: Loan Nguyen, 16, follows Kellie
Magnuson’s instructions on proper
stretching techniques. Magnuson has
has been involved with dance for 16
years and was an instructor at
Hollyday Dance Studio for the last four
Below: Paula Squires, 12, of Lincoln
was all smiles for lunch while Tagi
Adams looks on.
UNL students found group
to provide support for girls
By Jennifer Walker
Summer Co-editor
More than 40 percent of young women in the
United States become pregnant before age 20.
In Lancaster county, 240 teens gave birth in 1995,
accounting for 7.5 percent of all births in the county.
Seventy percent of teen-age mothers drop out of
school, according to the Lincoln Lancaster County
Health department.
That's where Project Girl comes in. According to
Tagi Adams, the first-year program's co-coordinator,
there aren't many resources in Lincoln for girls who
may be at risk for teen pregnancy, violence and drug
“We think young women are being neglected," she
said. “And the numbers of young women involved in
violent criminal behavior and teen pregnancy are
going up.”
The program was started in January by four
University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, Adams, KT
Ross, LeAnn Pancharoen and Nigh Tigh; Susan
Jensen, a UNL graduate; and one Lincoln Action
Program staff member, Flonne Joseph.
Project Girl is a 21 -week program that serves girls
in grades six through eight bv teaching them every
thing from job skills to pregnancy prevention, Adams
"We wanted to create a space for girls only,” she
said. “Women need to learn to trust each other and
look to other women for role models”
Diversity is also a big part of Project Girl. So in the
first six weeks of the program, the girls learn about
their cultural backgrounds and those of the Project
Girl staff.
Pancharoen said learning cultural background
first was important.
“We thought about the information we were lack
ing when we were grow ing up," she said.
Sixteen girls, ages 11-16, met with the Project Girl
staff, who each presented a topic they researched.
Ross, a junior women's studies major, presented
“Latina y Chicana Mujeres,” for which she won the
Karen Dunning award, and S500.
After the first “multicultural classroom” phase,
the project moved on to teen pregnancy and violence
prevention. In that 12-week session, the girls learned
about teen parenting, body image, dating violence and
self defense. A different speaker presented each week.
Speakers from the Rape/Spouse Abuse Crisis Center,
2545 N St., South East Community College, 8800 O
St., Planned Parenthood, 2246 O St., and the Lincoln
Lancaster County Health Department, 3140 N St.,
were among those the Project Girl staff enlisted to pre
The final phase of Project Girl is a three-week
summer camp, with more presenters and job-site
tours. The camp started Monday; its purpose is to pro
vide examples of women in professional fields whom
the girls can look up to.
Tania Diaz, an attorney with Nebraska Advocacy
Services, which advocates for people with mental and
developmental disabilities, gave a presentation
She said she spoke about the process of becoming
an attorney, and how important it was to stay in school.
“We encouraged them to be very focused and
determined,” she said, “And if they are interested in
the law; it's a good way to change the system.”
She said she thought Project Girl was crucial.
“Young girls need to know that there are people
out there who have gone to school, are professionals
and enjoy their professions.”
The example the Project Girl staff sets has had an
impact on the girls in the group, said Florine Joseph,
Lincoln Action Program staff member and co-coordi
nator of Project Girl.
“(Project Girl) provides something different from
drugs and the main man in their lives," Joseph said.
Adams said the chance to do something different
than their peers was important to the girls.
“The girls can see that ‘here are women who care
about us,’” she said.
One of the girls missed her ride to a Project Girl
meeting, so she ran there, Adams said.
Shannon Johnson, a Project Girl member, gave her
own description of the program.
“It’s about feminism, sisterhood, solidarity and
realizing that boys are just a side thing.”
We wanted to create a
space for girls only.
Women need to learn to
trust each other and look
to other women for role
models ”
Tagi Adams
Project Girl co-coordinator