published Friday, February 17th, 2012

Teen Talk encourages students to ‘look beyond’ high school

Kimberly McMillian/Correspondent
  • photo
    Christine Ralph, Executive Director for the Community Needs Assessment Team and the Rhea County United Way
    Photo by Kimberly McMillian

EVENSVILLE, Tenn. — The presence of Briana Carter, a repeat attendee at the Rhea County United Way health council’s “Looking Beyond High School” annual workshop, reminds organizers of their program’s success.

Christine Ralph, executive director of United Way in Rhea County, called Carter the “poster child” for the group’s efforts to successfully reach teen girls at the workshop that promotes self-esteem and well-informed choices about careers and teen sex.

On Wednesday, members of the health council’s Teen Talk group led the after-school workshop for ninth- to 12th-grade girls at the Rhea County High School theater.

Attendees received resource booklets on topics about parental conversations, body weight and image, sexual abstinence and dating or domestic violence.

High school teacher Anita Defore shared a story about a young girl who had experienced a teen pregnancy and how the baby’s father had offered support, rather than simply abandoning her.

Defore talked about the difficulties teen girls may face and decisions they might regret, and she urged the students to “become whatever you want to.”

Local hair stylist Kara Massengill encouraged them to “do what you want to ... and enjoy” their career choices.

Massengill said she knew from an early age that she wanted to work in the beauty industry, but that she was sidetracked by family expectations before she could pursue her goal.

She urged the students to pursue their dreams.

After the program, students had an opportunity to learn beauty and make-up tips from a consultant, have their hair done by stylists, learn about healthy food choices and tale part in a jazzy Zumba workout with Rhea YMCA fitness instructor Hailey Welch.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at

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