Photo courtesy of Tara Kidd.
Members of LYLAS Girls make friends and learn about confidence and perseverance through the group’s mentorship.
Two 11-year-old girls sat next to each other, both smiling from ear to ear.
“L.Y.L.A.S. Girls has taught me to be kind and have more confidence,” one of the girls, Cakeria Conely, said. “I remember when one of the mentors first talked to me. I just stared back because I couldn’t even say hi to her. I was so shy. Now I want to be a leader.”
Alongside her, India Kidd added, “I learned to never give up and to keep moving forward. When I started soccer, I stopped right away because I wasn’t good at it at first. I wish I didn’t give up so fast. One of my goals now is to learn to play the trumpet.”
At first meet, the girls seem to instinctively embody perseverance and optimism. However, both credit their positivity to the L.Y.L.A.S. (Love You Like a Sister) Girls organization.
“We [L.Y.L.A.S. Girls] are a nonprofit organization that empowers girls to be confident, loving and tenacious,” founder Tara Kidd said.
Kidd is a Hoover resident and established the organization on May 30, 2014. She experienced insecurities growing up and wanted to guide younger girls in gaining self-confidence. She began to embrace mentorship roles as she grew older and eventually dedicated herself full time.
The organization currently mentors 20 girls in Hoover and 150 girls throughout the state and country, from Montgomery and Monroeville, to Atlanta and Chicago. L.Y.L.A.S. Girls encourages girls between the ages of 8 to 18 through monthly meetings. The gatherings include workshops and speakers from around the area and beyond.
Additionally, the organization gets involved in the community through fundraising and volunteer efforts at nursing homes. The Hoover Target, located in The Grove shopping center, has provided some supplies to L.Y.L.A.S. along the way.
Along with Kidd, there are several other active mentors for L.Y.L.A.S. Girls.
“We try not to act as parents but instead encourage values that were already taught to the girls and expand on that,” Kidd said. “We also concentrate on academic success, positive attitudes and the negatives of bullying.”
Over the past year, there have been improvements within the program, including more adult volunteers and an easier enrollment process. The girls themselves have also taken an important part in deciding workshop ideas.
“In the future, I would love for the girls to be able to visit the White House and meet the president and First Lady. I’m also hoping that we’ll be able to start a scholarship fund,” Kidd said.
“If we had to describe Mrs. Tara, we think that she is …” Cakeria paused in thought.
“Graceful,” India filled in.
“There wouldn’t be a group without her,” Cakeria agreed.
- Free monthly meetings
- firstname.lastname@example.org or find them on Facebook