March 21, 2011
Jennifer Leyton spends several days a month mentoring a group of teenage girls in Charlottesville. They discuss things like the highs and lows of their day, work on math and reading skills and always end with some fun.
“We'll do homework, go to University of Virginia basketball games, hang out with family and friends. There is also tutoring involved as well,” she said.
Leyton works with the 14-year-old girls in every aspect of their lives, hoping to make them good students, better leaders and stronger women.
“It feels good to see them engaged with each other in a positive way, giving each other good advice, picking each other up when they're going through something tough; it makes me feel proud of them and proud for myself that I could be part of their life,” she said.
For four years Leyton has been there for the girls, who say through the good times and the bad she has been more than a mentor. She's become their friend and hero.
“I probably wouldn't have been into school, but since I have mentors like [Jennifer] I'm dedicated to school and want to do better,” explained Kenya Ferguson.
Others say Leyton is a person they can turn to when others have walked away.
“It's a good program for teenage girls because you can share things without being scared or anybody telling others, so it's good,” said Caniquia Eubanks.
Leyton is even helping some of the girls with their college decision. She recently joined them and other mentors on a college tour to D.C. and Northern Virginia.