MADISON (WKOW) -- A mother-daughter duo is helping to shape young women's lives.
Teresa and Faith Stevenson lead the ladies of the Kioja Step Team at Madison East High School.
They not only teach the girls the history of stepping, they also instill in them the importance of giving back to their community, friendship, and responsibility.
Faith says, "Kioja gives them an identity, a place to belong, It gives them people who depend on them for something and somewhere they are valued."
Faith and Teresa started the group in 2009 to keep the girls on track throughout high school.
"They tend to improve in their grades, they improve their attendance in class. They improve their attitude in school with their teachers and the staff ," says Teresa.
"I've had girls who've literally told me they wouldn't make it if they hadn't joined," says Faith
Junior Kayla Haynes has been on the team for three years and says she loves the sisterhood she's gained and the how much she's matured.
"I feel like I've grown up and they're teaching me life lessons. It's like really helping me out."
Shameka Gray, who's been on the team for two years, says, "One of the most important things they've taught me is to be confident. To be confident and comfortable in your own skin."
The girls practice two days every week throughout the entire school year, but Faith and Teresa's work for the group extends far beyond that.
"She and I really try to stay on them, so we are always checking grades and she is coming to the school almost every day and follows them to class," says Faith.
"They're mother figures," says junior Janai Cain. "They help you out a lot and they teach you that life isn't just about having fun. You have responsibilities to take care of and they help you be leaders."
The team does all its own fundraising for uniforms and performances throughout the community.
The money also supports a road trip for the juniors and seniors to visit colleges.
Faith says, "To see the possibilities. See college as an option. It really truly has been an amazing experience to watch them grow."
Teresa says, "It's a great opportunity to change lives and that's one of my goals in life."
That's what makes Faith and Teresa Stevenson our Jefferson Award winners for May.
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