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Girls get resources to help them navigate challenges of middle school
Aurelia Moss and her daughter, eighth-grader April Mikell Moss, listen to Destiny Bradshaw's opening remarks during Saturday's wellness initiative. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

RINCON — Mothers weren't the only ones who received gifts over the weekend.
During Saturday's "SMART Choices, A Mother-Daughter Seminar" at the United Way Service Center, several young ladies in grades 5-8 were presented with a variety of tips that will help them overcome the challenges of middle school. The girls were offered advice on how to handle gossip, anxiety, sexual pressure and bullying.
"We've had the event at different times in the past but Mother's Day weekend seemed like the perfect time for females to come together and have that unity," said Ready2CONNECT Executive Director Destiny Bradshaw, organizer of the event.
Bradshaw is a former educator who is well aware of middle-school pitfalls.
"What we find in that population is that it really takes a village," she said.
Bradshaw said middle schoolers are often more receptive to getting advice from strangers than their parents. Furthermore, she stated that some girls have no one to talk to about puberty and sex education.
"In the fifth through eighth grade, the conversation should evolve," Bradshaw said.
Fifth graders were offered basic information about their bodies and how it will change in the teen years.
Sixth-grade girls were pampered while getting instruction on skin care and hygiene.
Relationships were the focus for seventh graders.
"The friendships that you have with other females oftentimes determines the type of relationships you will have as you get the boyfriends," Bradshaw said.
The eighth-grade participants in the wellness initiative learned about sexual development.
After Bradshaw's introductory remarks, Katie McGrory, a licensed professional counselor, discussed self-harm.