I Am Gracious: Program for young ladies

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 3, 2012

Susan LaFargue Kyle

Celebrating their one year anniversary in March, I Am Gracious, a non-profit organization in Westlake, focuses on building self-esteem and self-confidence in young girls. Trista Ledet Ames is the founder and director of the group.
“I kept seeing the need for guidance when I’d see the young girls in improper dress trying to get the attention of the boys and I thought, maybe there’s something I can do that will give them that validation that they are beautiful. They don’t have to go seek it from the wrong sources,” said Ames.
Last summer, the group put together a fashion show at the Managan Center in Westlake. The objective of the show was to teach girls how to dress with modesty. It was named ‘Taking Pride in our Appearance’ and dressing for success was the theme. Nearly 50 girls and their parents were in attendance.
Ames is the daughter of Pastor Nathaniel and Jacklyn Ledet and is a 1997 graduate of Westlake High School. She has her associate of applied science degree from SOWELA. She is now studying for her bachelor’s degree at McNeese with a major in criminal justice.
“I’m a paralegal and I work with juveniles, immigrants and domestic violence victims. We see a lot of young people headed down the wrong road. I decided I may be able to stop that before it starts. So I had the idea of organizing I Am Gracious.”
I Am Gracious is an open group for young girls ages 12 to 18 years old who meet every first and third Tuesday of the month from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. Presently the group is meeting at House of Prayer Holiness Church, 3516 Old Spanish Trail. They are hoping to find another meeting place and have asked the community with no luck so far. At the meetings the group talks about everyday things the girls encounter. Some topics have been obeying parents, bullying, teen suicide and what’s my worth. Occasionally, the group makes a field trip.
“They leave the meeting with a sense of pride. I hope to give them the feeling of, ‘I can conquer the world.’ They tell me the meetings give them a good feeling and that the discussions really help them. In turn, they tell me that they’re able to help others with some things they learn, and that is so important,” said Ames.
On Tuesday, March 6, the group is planning a career night at the Managan Center. Nearly a dozen successful career women from a broad range of careers will speak.
Contact information is www.iamgracious.org or contact Ames at 337-425-1711.