Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gwen's Girls Focuses on Self-Esteem, Abstinence

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gwen's Girls Focuses on Self-Esteem, Abstinence

Article excerpt

Gwen's Girls, named for one of the first female African-American police officers in Pittsburgh, has launched a new after-school program, focused on building self-esteem and promoting abstinence in middle school students.

Reaching Adolescents with Positive Support, or RAPS, is a program designed to discourage pre-adolescents from engaging in behaviors for which they are too young or immature, or those that can be dangerous at any age. It began in late October and runs for three months. RAPS is held after school at Propel Charter Schools in McKeesport and Braddock Hills and will begin in the winter at the Homestead and Central North Side locations.

RAPS is a collaboration between the North Side-based Gwen's Girls and Adagio Health of Pittsburgh.

Gwen's Girls was founded in 2002 by the late Gwen Elliott, a former commander on the force, and operates with the support of donors and volunteers. It offers several programs, including the after-school sessions. Its overall goal, according to the website Gwensgirls.org, is to empower girls and young women to explore all of the world's possibilities. In addition to RAPS, Gwen's Girls' offers other free after-school programs, community education, residential programs, foster parenting, parental support and career readiness support for young girls.

"We have a long-standing partnership," said Maria Ponzi of Adagio Health about working with the organization.

Ms. Ponzi said Adagio received a grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Health for abstinence education for students in sixth through eighth grades.

About 20 students attend RAPS in McKeesport, and about 10 attend in Braddock Hills. Over the course of nearly two years, the program will reach about 72 boys and girls. Any student at the schools may sign up for the program, facilitated by Gwen's Girls, Adagio staff and volunteer mentors. …

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