Exciting Opportunity for Teens from BET!

bet-logo images

American Psychological Association and BET Rap It Up Campaign are working together to create a new HIV prevention campaign for youth.  They are looking for committed high school youth across the country to apply to be selected for the APA BET youth advisory board.

The deadline to apply is Friday, June 14th!


We are looking for committed youth who are passionate about serving their community, have lots of creative ideas and interested in issues related to health and well-being.

The APA/BET youth advisory board will be a group of teenagers, ranging in age from 14-18 years old, across the country that will help the American Psychological Association and BET Rap It Up Campaign to plan a new HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.

What will I be doing as part of the APA/BET Youth Advisory Board?
The APA/BET Youth Advisory Board member will serve for one year.

Meetings will be held online/calls monthly to provide feedback on the campaign.

The APA/BET Youth Advisory Board members will:
1) provide feedback on campaign ideas
2) help to develop campaign materials
3) give information about youth attitudes/behaviors

Upon selection to the APA/BET Youth Advisory Board, we will ask for parental/ caregiver permission for participation in the APA/BET Youth Advisory Board.

APA/BET Youth Advisory Board members will get leadership experience, professional development guidance and there will be some gift incentives provided to participants.

To apply click here: http://apayouthadvisoryboard.wufoo.com/forms/american-psychological-association-and-bet-rap-it/

Please spread the word to 14-18 year olds in the US!

How to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

I tuned in to OWN (Oprah Winfrey’s Network) to watch Lisa Ling’s new show “Our America” last Tuesday and the episode was called “Teen Mom Nation.”

The statistics were staggering:

  • 1 out of 3 teen girls becomes pregnant
  • More than 1,000 teen girls a day give birth
  • 50% of Black & Latino girls get pregnant before turning 20

This lead me to think about my own experience growing up, as well as my perspective as a teacher, a step-mom and a future mom.

Shortly after starting my menstrual cycle (I was 11 years old), my mom said that we were going to get birth control. I can remember her saying if I was thinking about having sex she hoped I wouldn’t, but if I did that I should use condoms. Every three months we went to the doctor so that I could get injected with birth control. While no one wants to get shots, the millisecond of pain prevented a lifetime of struggle for me. Some would balk at the idea of a mother (or father) giving an 11 year old birth control but the biological reality was that I was capable of making a baby and my mother also understood that while she had instilled certain values in me, she wasn’t with me 24 hours a day. Fast forward almost 20 years and I know that if I have a daughter I will make a similar decision. My job as a parent is to protect my child and if that means putting her on birth control to prevent her from becoming a mom too soon, then I’d do it. Similarly, if I have a son, when he turns 12 or 13, I will be sure to not only have the “birds and the bees” talk, but make sure he knows how to use condoms and have the “birth control” talk with his potential sexual partners.

Although my mom put me on birth control, she did not allow boys to come over to visit when I was between the ages of 11 – 16, and even at age 16/17, I was allowed to go on dates, but I was never allowed to be unsupervised at home. She also had conversations with my friend-boy’s parents (she refused to call them boyfriends lol) just so that she knew where I was and who they were.
The thing about many parents (and even the parents that were featured on the program) was that they were in denial about their daughters having sex. Teens are exposed to sex in every area of their lives and at 12 or 13 they get curious because they see it on TV and may even hear about it amongst their peers. Not to mention the reality of hormones which also piques their interest. I’ve been dealing with teens (particularly 14 year olds) as a teacher for  10 years now and I can tell you that most of my girls are PREOCCUPIED with boys – you often find them talking amongst teaching about what boys like? whose the most attractive? what is love? what is infatuation? They choose their clothes based on what they think boys like, they “dumb themselves down” by not speaking up in class and they can be aggressive sometimes physically by chasing boys and begging for their attention; not to mention the conflict they have with other girls because of boys…

Lisa Ling’s “Our America” program talked about how many girls are looking for love and attention and many of them live in single parent households and don’t have father figures. There was one case study of an African American girl who was the youngest of 7 siblings. She described being a mom as having “something that belonged to her” and “someone that would love her and depend on her.” The father of her baby was older and he was expecting a baby with another woman. The whole idea of “trapping” was also discussed which is the idea that a girl can “trap” a man or force him to be with her because she gives birth to “his” baby. For a teen girl love is blinding, and she often confuses sexual attention with love. This is especially true for teen girls who don’t have fathers or male figures to help her navigate the dating world. Girls who live in single parent households have parents who have to work, so even they may not necessarily have the time to invest which causes the cycle of poverty and teen parenting to happen over and over again, generation after generation.

There was a Girl’s Inc. program in Memphis, Tennessee that brought a group of teen girls together. The girls received a doll that simulated a real baby. The doll cried randomly, excreted life-like fluids and had to be fed. The girls were to care for the doll for approximately 12 hours and were given car seats, bottles, the whole 9. The program was very successful in discouraging teen pregnancy because it made teen motherhood a reality. In the four years that they’ve been doing the program only one girl was pregnant. Based on the Our America program it was clear that teens romanticize parenthood. They underestimate just how difficult parenting is. Today’s children learn best by experience. Gone are the days of lecturing, begging and preaching. We have to create more learning activities that are hands-on because these experiential learning activities leave life-long impressions.

As it relates to teen dads, they often leave the picture. Boys have to be educated on the dangers of teen parenting and the risk of sexual activity. They also have to be taught how to be responsible sexually because teen pregnancy happens often because of unprotected sex.

Finally, children cannot be afraid to talk to their parents. While you don’t want to lay out the red carpet for sexual exploration, you also don’t want to be in denial about your child’s interest in sex. You also don’t want to create a situation where they are afraid to talk to you about their thoughts or (false) information they may hear from their peers. A parent is a child’s first teacher and in 2012 we don’t have the luxury to just ignore subjects or topics that we may be too uncomfortable to address with our children.

We have to affirm our girls. Some of them may be searching for love and attention because there is an absence of one or both in their lives. Another way that my family helped me avoid teen pregnancy was by keeping me busy. Teenagers need places to go and things to do, otherwise they get themselves in trouble…

How To Be A Better Big Brother (Or Uncle Or Father)

Caption: Neyo with little sister Nikki.

We’ve embraced the fact that our boys need fathers. We’ve even said those who don’t need male role models. According to most fathers – boys are easy. You can toss them around. You can raise your voice. You use the bathroom the same way. You have so much in common. Girls need men in their lives too. Especially after they reach puberty and the hormones kick in. If you are that man in a girl’s life – her big brother, her uncle, or her father you should:

(1) Listen to her. Don’t just hear her. Ask her about her opinion. Encourage her to speak her mind even if she doesn’t agree with you. Through her conversations with you, she will learn how to make a logical argument, how to negotiate and how to stand her ground. This is especially important because the corporate world – heck our world in general is patriarchal and she can best learn how to function in this world by dealing with patriarchs who have her best interests at heart.

(2) Show her that she is beautiful. When you see women or girls who share similar characteristics – allow her to hear you comment on how beautiful the woman or how pretty the girl or young woman. If she sees you abusing women who share her characteristics or talking badly about their attitudes – those generalizations will rub off on her. Likewise, if she sees that you only date women who dress a certain way she will consider that a viable option as a role model. If you’re single, think about the last three dates or girlfriends you introduced your sister or your daughter or your niece to. Are they women you’d want your sister or your daughter or your niece to be or become?

Caption: Rev. Run with daughters Vanessa & Angela

(3) Help her reach her dreams. Convince her that anything is possible. If she’s younger, expose her to traditional “male” or “boy” things like legos, chess and athletics. While it’s okay for her to celebrate her gender as a female, it is important that she not be married to pink or that she becomes resistant to math or science because she believes “it’s for boys.” The only way for her to move away from those rigid gender roles and gender lines is for someone to expose her to other options. When she says she wants to do something – talk it through and help her find the resources to make it happen.

(4) Protect Her. Both emotionally and physically. Even if she disappoints you by choosing a poor partner or by disobeying your words – she needs to know that you are her paramedic – available at a moment’s notice and you will always be there.

(5) Show her what love is… show her what respect is… She needs to see at least one healthy romantic relationship. Even if you aren’t on the best terms with her mom (in a romantic sense) she needs to hear that you respect her mother. If you aren’t her father and you’re a big bro or uncle – have an honest conversation about what makes you love (or hate) a woman, and what makes you respect (or devalue) a woman. Be very honest. Be very specific. She will get the message.

(6) Understand that she’s going to make mistakes. She’s not perfect and she needs you to be there when she falls. If you ignore her or cut her off then she may go further into a dark tunnel and become more rebellious. She needs certain things from you – conversation, support, humor, a shoulder to cry on, advice – and if she is not getting those things from you, she will be looking in another direction for those things.

(7) Share your experiences. Open up to her about your life experiences and tell her what you learned from them. You’d be surprised how much she’ll learn from just listening to your stories. Tell her about the time you were afraid, or the time you lost your cool. Tell her about how you had your heart broken or when you disappointed your parents. She’ll learn from your cues.

I was blessed growing up to have a strong male figure in my life – my mother’s older brother. By watching him I learned a strong work ethic (he NEVER missed work and would often have to work on holidays because he was a fireman). I learned the importance and value of travel – he would haul my cousin (his daughter) and I into the back seat of his Crown and we’d drive all over the country – to Michigan, to California, to New Mexico just to name a few. He was there to celebrate major milestones in my life – birthdays and graduations and he had a strong voice in our family often making the hard decisions. My father was here and there but my Uncle often treated me like his daughter and I know that I would not be the woman I am today without his influence. So if you’re a brother, an uncle or a father please think about all of the women (young and old) in your life… we desperately need you…

Project Life Updates…

Although I haven’t been posting on the blog, I did want to let you guys know that Project Life has been alive and well! I’m actually all caught up!!! Here are a few of my favorite layouts from Weeks 6 – 8 (last week):

In the photo above, I captured a screenshot of my husband & I using Skype. I printed the photo in 8 1/2 by 11 on regular printer paper.

This week my husband and I celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary! The time truly flies…

My step son had a 70s Soul Train party at school and we all went together as a family.

Project Life is a simple approach to capturing everyday life created by Becky Higgins who you can find here:


Here are my other layouts:

Week 1 of 52: https://donnienicole.com/2012/01/07/project-life-week-1-of-52/

Week 2 of 52: https://donnienicole.com/2012/01/16/week-2-of-52-project-life/

Week 3 of 52: https://donnienicole.com/2012/01/21/project-life-2012-week-3/

Week 4 of 52: https://donnienicole.com/2012/01/28/project-life-week-4/

Week 5 of 52: https://donnienicole.com/2012/02/06/project-life-week-5/

Project Life – Week 1 of 52

Project Life is a simple approach to capturing everyday life created by Becky Higgins who you can find here:


Some people take a photo a day, others approach the project weekly. I’m doing the weekly approach and unlike many others, I’ve decided that I’m going to make my own journal cards and tags (although the ones from the official Project Life Kit are absolutely perfect)! I decided that I’d challenge myself to complete this project this year, and as a reward for finishing I’ll purchase a kit next year. Anywho, as it stands, I’m planning to complete my week on Saturday and hopefully have the post up no later than Sunday (for the previous week). I want to share my space with you guys, as well as share my Title Page & Week 1 Layout!

This is my project life corner. It includes an inbox (for me to easily capture and have access to all my memorabilia that week). The thing about Project Life is that you’re supposed to use not only pictures but receipts, menus, business cards – whatever you have that represents that particular week. There is also a rotary tool/journal card organizer that I purchased from staples (for about 20 bucks), a file sorter, a 12 x 12 accordion file (to keep the specialty cardstock that I bought just for Project Life), a pop up note dispenser (great for jotting quick notes about a photo or artifact), a disposable zip lock container (that holds embellishments & stuff to small to go in the rotary file) and a binder (that I use to hold my alphabet/letter stickers).

This is the collection of journal cards that I made totally from scraps. I’m always trying to use my scraps lol!

I found this notepad called “Today Mini Goals” for $5.00 in the “clearance” section at Staples. It’s perfect for Project Life!

A close up of the rotary file that holds journal cards & tools purchased at Staples for $20.00.

Here is the title page of my 2012 Project Life Album…

A part of this page was private, so I had to “blot” it out. Can only share with friends & family! Love you guys though!

Here is the final page of my Week 1 layout.


1. Don’t purchase photos on line! They take TOO long to deliver! I must find a local print studio that I like better than Walgreens & that will print my photos within 24 hours.

2. I’d like to journal more throughout the week. This week I jotted notes down on post-its and wrote one large journal.

3. Keeping my camera with me is key. A lot of the pics were ones that I was fortunate to capture because I had my camera with me like this one, on the way home Friday, Jan. 6th:

The Personal Is Political…

A few days ago, one of my favorite bloggers and scrapbookers released an extremely personal statement on her blog. Ali Edwards & her husband are going through a divorce. I was moved by her public announcement because she literally has thousands of fans and scrapbook enthusiasts and in one moment she decided to be vulnerable & authentic. Her post titled, “The Evolution of My Story,” was so moving because it was tucked in between beautiful professional Thanksgiving photos and exciting contests. It was a reminder that we all have challenges and that we are never alone in those challenges.

Caption: A peek at my Scrapbook Collection. I start with my birth and have documented everything in my life.

Sometimes people who are in the public eye create & become caricatures of themselves. They become iconized until the crap hits the fan and then they start chasing their shadows. They lose touch with what it means to be human and when they finally do become vulnerable they are punished for it. Now don’t get me wrong you must retain some element of privacy despite your public profile. There is a such thing as T.M.I. (too much information) but when you are going through something that is life-changing, you’d be surprised to know how many people are going through the same exact thing behind closed doors, and how they will wrap their arms around you in solidarity and support.

I have learned so much from Ali, and in my mind she is like my creative big sister. I want her to know that my prayers and thoughts are with her and her family and that I am inspired by her courage!


The Carter Bunch: A Look At Lil Wayne’s Blended Family

My husband and I were watching a documentary called “Without a King” about the current King of Swaziland Mswati III. Swaziland is the only country in Africa that has a monarchy. King Mswati III was the son of King Sobhuza II who had 110 wives and 240 children and came into power at the tender age of 12. One of the issues the documentary explored was polygamy, which has been an ongoing debate that I have had for as long as I can remember as I am personally both suspicious of and against it. While watching the documentary I started thinking about rapper Dwayne “Lil Wayne” Carter. Now Dwayne is not quite a polygamist because he only had one wife.

Dwayne has four women that he has procreated with – Antonia (who was also his ex wife), Lauren London, Nivea and Sarah. Lauren London is an actress famous for her breakout role in ATL. Nivea is a R & B singer whose most famous single was “Don’t Mess With My Man,” Sarah is a model and Antonia was Dwayne’s childhood sweetheart, the mother of his first child and the only one he married.. The whole reason why I am sharing this story is because of the harmony between the four women. Trashy journalists often try to pit one woman against the other but from all accounts the women have accepted that they all have children who are fathered by this one individual.

Recently Antonia was remarried and both Nivea and Lauren were there to support. Additionally, Dwayne publicly wished her and her new husband well and said something along the lines of “welcome to the family.” All of the children (who are half-siblings) know each other, and even his oldest daughter speaks fondly of the other mothers. In one episode of Antonia’s reality show, her daughter said “I admire Nivea, she is like my big sister.” Her mother in an interview said, “We talk. We have a great relationship. I’m good with all of them. I try to keep the kids cool because they’re all in the same situation, so we don’t have time for any drama.” She also said “He tells her about it, so I just go along with the flow. He’s a great father.” She continued “I didn’t grow up with my dad’s kids and I don’t even know half of them and I don’t want that for Reginae. I want her to have a good relationship with her brothers and be able to see them whenever, go to their house, they come to my house and that’s the kind of relationship we all have.”

A friend said that Dwayne is in the situation that he is in because of his financial security, so the women are not “fighting” for limited resources. Perhaps, but I’d also credit their maturity and selflessness. In situations where two people procreate it sometimes creates a war when the other partner moves on. It is one thing to get divorced or break up when there are no children involved. It is an entirely different thing to do so when there are children involved. While “the mothers” may not be best friends, I do think that it is in the best interest of the children that they are respectful of one another, their respective roles and the importance of the children being able to spend time together as a unit with their father (or mother).   Ultimately you can’t change the past, all you can do is deal with the reality of right now and I feel that is exactly what is happening with Mr. Carter and the mothers of his children.

Summer Manifesto!

In about 2 1/2 hours I will be off for the next 12 weeks! I’m celebrating with my Summer Manifesto (a list of things I plan to do/accomplish over the summer).

For those who can’t view the image here is the list (not necessarily in order of priority).

  1. Finish Campaign Scrapbook
  2. Finish Mom’s Scrapbook
  3. Finish Websites (DonnieNicole.Com LINKS, Launch Site For Teachers, Launch DearLittleSis.Com)
  4. Find Latino Novel for 9th Graders
  5. Plan for National Boards
  6. Plan A.P. Comp Curriculum
  7. Get a Sephora Makeover
  8. Get a MAC Makeover
  9. Take a trip to Kalahari Water Park w/ Fam
  10. GO to the top of the Sear’s Tower (for the first time 🙂
  11. Take a Navy Pier Boat Cruise
  12. Organize Contacts (Google Vs. Address Book)
  13. Clean out e-mail inboxes
  14. Update Teaching Certification
  15. CLean out/organize home office
  16. Get new eyeglasses
  17. Dentist Appt.
  18. Annual Physical & Gynecologist Visit
  19. Update passport
  20. Get an I-Pad

And although it’s not on the notepad I also plan to:

– Blog Weekly (every other day or so for DonnieNicole.Com, every Monday for DearLittleSis.com and every Thursday for ThinkLikeATeacher.Wordpress.Com)

For my fellow teachers, what are you planning to do this summer? For my nonteachers what are you most looking forward to this summer?