Melissa Harris-Perry | June 02, 2012
HARRIS: Sometimes one person with a passion can impact an entire community. Uraidah Hassani , the founder and director of the Women Worldwide Initiative spends her Wednesdays at a high school in east New York for one specific reason, to provide a safe space for teenage girls to learn to vent and grow. Her new Young Women Rock mentorship program cultivate sisterhood bonds between mentors and young women in a neighborhood where more than 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and approximately one in ten teens becomes pregnant. Because of her dedication and vision, Uraidah is this week's foot soldier, and we sent a camera out to Brooklyn to see her in action. Take a look.
URAIDAH HASSANI, WOMEN WORLDWIDE INITIATIVE: So everyone stand up and get in a circle. We're going to do a trust circle exercise. My name is Uraidah Hassani , and I'm the founder and executive director of the Women Worldwide Initiative . The Young Women Rock mentorship program is dedicated to really strengthening the lives and communities of young women in underserved neighborhoods. Today, we are at watch high school in east New York . It's actually the neighborhood that has the highest percentage of its population living below the poverty line out of Brooklyn and New York City as a whole. So, Young Women Rock really provides a safe and stable and positive relationship for them with people that they can open up to.
CHRISTINA GREEN, PARTICIPANT: The program keeps me sane. It's good to open up and talk. My mentor is Bianca . I love her, she's the best. She's like a big sister.
HASSANI: Today's session is on drugs and alcohol.
ROSHELL BURNETTE, MENTOR: I think that they're benefitting from it because we're showing them that it's positive examples, especially me who comes out of the community and we can relate to them. A lot of the things that we talk to them about, I actually went through it and didn't have anyone to go to, to talk to about it.
HASSANI: My close friends do drink alcohol. We're talking to these teenage girls about self-esteem and self- confidence building. This idea of your personal identity and your self- worth, the consequences of being sexually active and also the undeniable pressure they will face at some point to engage in sexual activity.
ADRIENNE LYRIC, MENTOR: We've done a lot of different sessions on a lot of different things. One was on food. We talked about better eating habits and a lot of the girls have changed their eating habits and incorporate vegetables and fruits in today's diet. Some of them said they never drank water. Now they're starting to drink water.
HASSANI: The girls are slowly starting to understand their own importance. It's those moments where the girls feel self love that I feel extraordinary and it's actually a feeling that I can't really describe.
HARRIS-PERRY: Uraidah has seen the power of mentors in creating the light of self-love. And for that, she is this week's "Foot Soldier". That's our show for today. Thank you to Myrna Perez , and Kenji Yoshino , Karen Finney and Doug Brinkley for sticking around. Thanks to you at home, in Texas , for watching. And I 'll see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m . eastern. Former Virginia Governor Doug wilder is joining me. Coming up next, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." THIS IS A