The Girl Talk Foundation on Saturday graduated 30 girls from its “Tailoring Teens for Success” curriculum.

The 11-week, character-building program is designed to teach critical thinking, leadership skills and promote positive self esteem. Sessions include anger management, dating violence, etiquette/personal image, relationships and finance.

More than 100 Charlotte-area girls have completed the program since Girl Talk was founded in 2003 by WPEG (Power 98) radio personality Janine Davis. Other Girl Talk programs have reached hundreds more.

At Saturday’s graduation, held at Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant in SouthPark, each of the girls received a certificate and a keepsake representing the principles of Girl Talk.

Zavia Rudisell, 13, who attends Bailey Middle School, was one of several girls who said she initially did not want to join the program but would now miss the friends she’s made.

“My mom kinda made me go,” she said, “but eventually I started liking it.”

Rudisell said the program taught her to deal with some of life’s tough issues and gave girls a chance to ask questions they might have been reluctant to ask their parents.

DeAja Gaines, 14, who attends Mallard Creek High School, graduated from Girl Talk with perfect attendance.

“I had a lot of fun and learned a lot,” she said. “There were times when I didn’t want to go, but my mom kept saying ‘Get up, get up; you’ve got to go to Girl Talk.’”

In addition to its “Tailoring Teens for Success” program, Girl Talk also sponsors a local college tour and prom project that distributes new and slightly used prom dresses to dozens of girls each spring.

Davis said her goal is to one day see Girl Talk spread to other cities and states.

View slideshow from the event.

Editor’s Note: Editor/Publisher Glenn Burkins is a Girl Talk board member.

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