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My Future My Choice mentoring group changing lives in our community one teen at a time

LADIES-STANDING-BY-WALLMy Future My Choice mentoring group changing lives in our community one teen at a time

Mentees from My Future My Choice strike a pose at the recent screening of the movie, “Hidden Figures.”

By Charles Moseley

My Future My Choice is a mentoring group designed to assist young ladies in Broward County geared toward helping them cope with the obstacles that growing up in the inner-city presents. They challenge young ladies to “take charge of their future.”

The non-profit organization connects inner-city youth with positive female role models.  Teenage mentees are exposed to educational opportunities such as college planning, socio-economic issues developing coping skills and developing healthy self-esteem.

Oyinka Coakley is President of My Future My Choice. In keeping with one of its primary objectives of exposing teens to positive experiences, her organization recently hosted a premiere of the movie Hidden Figures sponsored by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.

“It was an amazing event where we brought together a theater full of teens, Motorola engineers, employees and their families to watch this inspiring movie. Our goal was to expose teens to careers in STEM and the impact that women have on that field. Our hope is to inspire the next generation of female engineers, mathematicians and scientists,” said Coakley.

“In addition to our teens and Motorola engineers and other employees, The Dennis Project’s Game Changers youth group joined us. This program focuses on career and leadership development for teens,” added Coakley.

President Coakley recently shared her insights regarding My Future My Choice with the Westside Gazette Newspaper (WG).

WG: How did your organization come about?

Coakley: “Our organization began seven years ago with a group of friends discussing how disturbed we were with the way teen girls were being portrayed in the media. We decided we wanted to do something to help teen girls make better life choices. We felt that education was the key to change our young girls’ thought processes so we decided to offer a series of enrichment workshops each year along with field trips to rein-force the concepts discussed at each workshop.”

WG: Why is it just as important that young girls receive mentoring as young boys?

Coakley: “Young girls need mentoring just as much as young boys do because women are often put in situations where they are made to feel inferior, unimportant and undervalued. Unfortunately, this happens all too often in schools, in the work-place and at home. Instilling high self-esteem and self-respect in young women at an early age will bolster their confidence and instill in them a belief that they can achieve anything they set their minds to.”

WG: What are some of the biggest challenges facing young girls today?

Coakley: “Some of the biggest challenges facing young girls today include declining self-respect, increasing peer pressure and the negative effects of social media. Our program hopes to help combat these issues by encouraging girls to be leaders and independent thinkers.”

WG: What have been your proudest moments since your organization began?

Coakley: “The moment we’re perhaps most proud of is when our program was featured on Local 10 news including an on-air interview with Neki Mohan and a behind-the-scenes tour of their studio. Another one of our proudest moments was also in 2015 when we were able to take our high school girls on a tour of the University of Central Florida thanks to a fundraising campaign initiated by business students at Broward College North Cam-pus. Another great moment in 2015 was when we hosted a seminar entitled Knowing Your Rights: Bridging the Gap between Teens and Law Enforcement. We had many teens, law enforcement officers and a lawyer at this event engaging in a spirited dialogue on how to improve the relationship between both groups. This movie premiere is definitely one of the moments we’ll cherish for years to come. However, our proudest moments are when young women who have been in our program graduate high school and move on to college and re-port back how well they’re doing academically and socially.”

WG: What are the goals and objectives of My Future My Choice for the future?

Coakley: “Our goals and objectives for the future include expanding our offerings to include young men and into the Broward County Public School system. We’d also love to increase the number of young wo-men in our mentoring program. We’d like to expand the reach of our program outside of Broward County by duplicating our mentoring program in other parts of the state. Our ultimate goal is to have the young women who are in our program become successful members of society and find meaningful ways to give back to their communities as we have done for them.”

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