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Mentoring, life skills training and workshops fortify future for more than 100 middle and high school girls

S.T.E.P.S. workshops for middle and high school girls tackle such diverse topics as wellness, self-esteem, relationships, body image, leadership skills, goal-setting and community service.
There are no maps or blueprints for helping a young person build a better life. But an innovative program called S.T.E.P.S. Inc. — Striving Toward Empowered Personal Success — is guiding many teenage girls onto the right path. In 2015, generous donors to the Community Foundation made possible two grants to the organization to support this positive outcome.

As a result, S.T.E.P.S. is offering a powerful combination of mentoring, life skills training and other workshops to more than 100 girls in grades 7 to 12 in New London and Groton.

Lead facilitator Jessica Bessette helps girls overcome their challenges. She says she often hears them say that their parents and teachers do not have time for them. To fill that need, S.T.E.P.S.’s afterschool programs provide something very basic: a safe place to talk things over with an objective female mentor.

“It’s so important to take the time to stop and listen to these girls,” says Jessica, who has done a lot of listening—and talking—in her seven years with the program.

Beatrice Jennette, president of S.T.E.P.S., has seen living proof of its positive impact in just eight years since she founded the organization as a grassroots effort in her own living room. Many girls who have been through the program—now young women enrolled in college—often return to visit their former mentors or participate in a program.

“It’s so rewarding to hear them say, ‘If it hadn’t been for S.T.E.P.S., I might have taken a very different path in life,’ ” she says. “We are so thankful to the Community Foundation for believing in the work we are doing and for being our partner as well.”


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