Developing D.i.i.v.a.s. – Guiding Youth to Grow in Dignity, Integrity, Independence, Virtue and Self Esteem

by Saudia LaMont, creator and director of Developing D.i.i.v.a.s, guest youth writer Asia Domasin, and Allyson Scanlon, Coordinator of Family & Child Advocacy, Claina Howard Nichols Center

D.i.i.v.a.s. was created for several reasons; firstly personal experience knowing what it is like to struggle through transitional years as an adolescent. Secondly, realizing the problematic gap which exists in services for ages 6-16 geared towards developing useful life skills. The following words from Saudia LaMont, creator and director of Developing D.i.i.v.a.s. may explain best the purpose behind our group.

diivas flower

 As someone who grew up with low self-esteem and lack of support I have spent the past several years of my life researching, studying and learning about Self Love, Self Esteem, Mind body Awareness, overcoming obstacles and how to endure. I have attended classes, training programs and support groups. I have self-educated by reading books, pamphlets, looking things up online, doing workbooks, watching documentaries, interviewing people and assessing my own personal life experiences.

My hope is that by arming youth with strong emotional tools early on, they will be empowered and able to defend themselves against low self-esteem, negative thoughts, rejection, bullying, peer pressure, media pressure or any of the other obstacles that many young people face today.

  • When someone is built up to be confident in whom they are and have a strong moral compass to guide them… It is “THAT” much harder to break them down.
  • With their emotional toolboxes filled they become equipped and informed to be better decision makers, better friends and the best them that “they” can be.
  • Upon successful completion of “Developing Diivas” the youth you graduate move on to “Supporting Diivas”.
  • By taking preventative measures early on and raising awareness, we can potentially reduce the need for intensive recovery measures in the future.
  • “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men/women.” ~Frederick Douglass~

Learning Objectives

  • Learn to effectively communicate
  • Explore dynamics of relationships
  • Reflect, Evaluate, & Assess all aspects of self
  • Build leadership skills
  • Experience positive community engagement
  • Establish values
  • Explain your support network
  • Investigate what it means to be you

We are proud to also include the following words from one of the many amazing young people we have had in the group. Below read what she feels she has gotten out of Developing D.i.i.v.a.s.

“I joined D.i.i.v.a.s. because I knew Miss Saudia, a family friend, and because I wanted to try something new with a new group of people that I didn’t know. By joining this group, I was able to find out new things about myself and get the opportunity to communicate and express myself with girls who wanted to do the same. I learned that I’m sensitive when it comes to criticism even if it is good. I learned that I like being a role model. I learned that I actually have a lot in common with the people I thought were so different from me. And at the end of the day, what I take away with me is an amazing group of friends that I never would have had without Developing D.i.i.v.a.s.”

Our most recent 10 week session included participation in Green Up Day.  Below are some quotes submitted by a few of our kids regarding their experience “Greening Up” –diivas group

“Tiring – because I already Greened Up, but we were able to Green Up here.”

“Pretty fun, I got some exercise.”

“Fun we all got to work together and we got our new shirts.”

“Good.” (x2)


diivas green up

Finally, the statements from the end of this past session regarding what our kids have learned about themselves:

  • I am UNIQUE
  • I am HAPPY
  • I am STRONG
  • I am UNIQUE
  • I am ENOUGH