Memphis, Tenn. — When the girls enrolled in a mentoring group sponsored by the Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program heard they would be the hostesses at a tea party, they didn’t seem too enthusiastic.
“When I first talked about it, they weren’t very open to it,” said Whitten, a family advocate counselor with the Relative Caregiver Program. “But they really embraced it.”
The Relative Caregiver Program supports children who are being cared for by relatives because their parents are unable to do so. Administered at the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities at UTHSC, the program is a collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.
The mentoring group, Girls Empowered and Mentored for Success (GEMS), was founded in 2014 to educate and inspire girls, ages 12-18, who are enrolled in the caregiver program. GEMS, which is patterned after a similar successful mentoring program for boys, offers positive mentoring, life-skills training and exposure to successful adults in the community.
The group meets at least once a month and covers topics such as self-esteem, etiquette, school success, leadership, dating, relationships and planning for the future. Speakers from the community are invited to present information to the girls. Currently, 19 girls are enrolled and attend regularly.
Whitten said the tea party was scheduled after a lesson on etiquette. “We wanted to get them used to doing things other than they normally do,” she said. The girls got to invite their caregivers, and were given colorful hats to wear at the party and take home.
As Tennessee’s only public, statewide, academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. Offering a broad range of postgraduate and selected baccalaureate training opportunities, the main UTHSC campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC also educates and trains cohorts of medicine, pharmacy and/or health professions students — in addition to medical residents and fellows — at its major sites in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. Founded in 1911, during its more than 100 years, UT Health Science Center has educated and trained more than 57,000 health care professionals in academic settings and health care facilities across the state. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu. Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/uthsc, on Twitter: twitter.com/uthsc and on Instagram: instagram.com/uthsc.
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