Sex can be a touchy subject, but Salama Gallimore doesn’t mind talking about it with 52 other people — that is, if they’re members of No-Limit Ladies, a support group for minority girls at Hickman High School.
“It is easier to talk to someone your own age going through the same struggles academically, with friends, and with family,” said Gallimore, a senior who is also president of Minority Achievement Scholars and a member of the National Honor Society.
The No-Limit Ladies group began in 2001 after Symone Langston-Thomas, now the group’s facilitator, attended an African American Academic Achievement Forum in St. Louis and heard about the program in a school district there.
Langston-Thomas did some research and talked with students, then developed a version of the program.
“I came up with my own format for a support group for young women with an African American emphasis,” she said. “I decided that I wanted to keep the name No-Limit Ladies because it was catchy and current, and I thought it would appeal to my group of young women.”
A 1995 study of counseling groups for African American females by Lynne E. Muller, supervisor of Guidance and Counseling Services in the Baltimore County Public Schools, showed there is a need for such support groups. Muller found that female African American students deal with multiple levels of discrimination and sexism in predominantly white schools and society.
The study also showed that an underrepresentation of African American students in counseling groups in primarily white schools should be a serious concern for school counselors.
Langston-Thomas thought it was imperative to have a counseling group at her school.
“We have a lot of conflicts and issues with young ladies as well as a need to show them what being a young woman is all about,” she said. “Sometimes they have the wrong impression of what a woman is. They need positivity and encouragement. “
The No-Limit Ladies group has 53 girls in grades 10 through 12 — most, but not all, of whom are African American — making it the largest student organization at Hickman. Its motto is, “I am a No-Limit Lady, and there is nothing that I cannot do. I am committed to success and to being the absolute best woman I can be. For, if I can conceive it, and believe it, I can achieve it.”
The group meets for an hour two Thursdays a month. During the meetings, the girls concentrate on promoting sisterhood, building relationships and self-esteem, emotional development and setting goals. Langston-Thomas also encourages the girls to strive to become anything they want to be, regardless of their individual issues and circumstances.
“It is really great for women,” said Hickman junior Tonya Kenner. “It teaches women to be strong and independent and come together as one.”
In the past, the group has discussed beauty tips, exercise habits, poetry and how to get along with other girls. The group has also hosted guest speakers including schools Superintendent Phyllis Chase, Blackberry Exchange owner Laura Wilson and 2001 Miss Teen USA Marissa Whitley.
In addition to meetings, the No-Limit Ladies take field trips. This year, they attended MU’s production of “The Trial of One Short-Sighted Black Woman Vs. Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae.”
Langston-Thomas said that although the group is geared toward minority girls, there are at least five girls in the group who aren’t minorities. This doesn’t seem to matter to the girls or hinder their communication.
“We are an eclectic group of women, but we are able to come together and talk about things we are excited about or things we are struggling with,” Gallimore said.
In the short amount of time the group has existed, it has managed to change students’ lives.
“I had very low self-esteem when I started the program,” said Terri Jackson, a 2003 Hickman graduate. “But being a member of the group definitely helped me raise it.”
Langston-Thomas has also noticed changes in the girls. She said that she often sees the members practicing the principles she teaches them. The girls also have a greater sense of togetherness, she said.
“For some girls it is the high of the week,” said Gallimore. “It helps them get by.”
Langston-Thomas donates her time and money to the No-Limit Ladies.
“I love what I do,” she said. “I love working with teenage girls. Sometimes I get frustrated and mad and want to quit, but I truly love these girls and want the best for them.”