Washington, DC — With tennis powerhouses Venus and Serena Williams making international headlines daily for their athletic prowess, more African-American girls and women are turning to the fast-paced sport for health benefits and recreation. To help local girls in the District become more active and build self-esteem, a 2009 Harvard University graduate and Howard University doctoral candidate recently announced an innovate initiative, Dream Girls Mentoring Program, to be held in collaboration with the Southeast DC Tennis and Learning Center (SETLC) beginning Sept. 11.

Dream Girls, a program utilizing one-on-one mentoring, tennis, and various academic activities, seeks to help teenage girls develop creative, effective life skills. In addition, the initiative focuses on maintaining positive relationships and lifestyles, etiquette training and college preparation.

“The overall goal is to ensure that the girls gain a load of knowledge and increased aptitude, while being immersed in a supportive environment amongst sincere, caring individuals,” said Co-Executive Director Trina Fletcher in a press statement. “The 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. program will take place twice a month on Saturdays beginning Sept. 11, and ending on Dec. 18.”

Learning the complexities of tennis is a key component of Dream Girls, and Jeri Ingram, junior outreach coordinator for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, said the teens’ lives will be enriched by the new sport.

“SETLC is looking forward to the partnership with Dream Girls in the fall. The positive experiences and relationships that the Dream Girls organization has to offer is exactly what we are looking for to enrich the lives of the young ladies in our program. I predict the benefits for the mentors and mentees will well exceed their expectations,” said Ingram in a statement. “This collaboration is another example of how community partnerships are changing lives.”

The program’s founders, motivational speakers Tina and Trina Fletcher, also believe the combination of mentoring, sports and education will prove invaluable assets for the girls. In addition to Dream Girls, the Fletchers have partnered with the Washington Mystics to create “Mentoring with the Mystics.”

To further their cause, the two women have visited colleges and universities nationwide to discuss the impact community service and education can have on underserved communities.

To find out more about Tina and Trina, LLC as well as Dream Girls registration information, visit www.tinaandtrina.com.