“Altered NWLA” is a new non-profit helping empower young women and one student says the program has helped change her life.
“This is a Saturday morning from 9 o’clock in the morning until noon,” said Altered NWLA Co-Founder Christy Johnston. “And these girls…how many teenagers get out of the bed on a Saturday morning to come sit in a class and learn?”
Mackenzie White is one of those teens. The 17-year-old Captain Shreve senior is an Altered Northwest Louisiana returning member.
She was hooked to the career, finance and life skills program after one of her very first classes which focused on self love.
“In that class we weren’t allowed to say anything negative about ourselves,” White explained. “We were only allowed to say positive things and so by doing that I realized how much stuff I actually like about myself.”
Karen Edwards: It was a lesson Mackenzie struggled with most of her young life after being sexually abused for several years.
“I lost all complete self love and self worth and self recognition,” she said. “I just I had nothing. It was all taken away from me. And so coming here and having to actually focus on what I’m good at and what I’m strong in. Having to find myself again…this class has helped me so much.”
Mackenzie has found a passion and talent for cosmetology. And, with the help of Altered, she’s learned how realistically plan a budget for the life she wants.
“The average makeup artist doesn’t make that much and so that tells me…not only do I have to have a job doing this but it has to be my passion. It has to be something that I can do side jobs,” she said.
Altered is helping her and every other member re-write their stories.
“Our goal is to build leaders in our community. Our goal is to build up women who are looking to possibly give back,” said Altered Co-Founder Jeannette Sibley.
A goal Mackenzie feels she now has the tools to reach.
“I don’t call myself a victim,” White explained. “I call myself a survivor because just having that power back. Oh my gosh, it just makes life so much better when your whole power everything has just been taken away from you and to gain it back…it’s just amazing.”
To learn more about Altered, see Part One of this special report here.
Altered NWLA gives the graduates who decide to pursue higher education a $1,000 scholarship and those who pursue a career a $500 curveball account.
For more information, visit: www.alterednwla.org