In fairy tales, the princess always lives happily ever after.

But real life doesn't have fairy tale endings, and teenage girls don't always wind up with the life they imagined.

The Atlantic City-based Princess, Inc. organization is determined to help teenage girls make good choices in life. On Sept. 26, the group held its second annual Purity Banquet, and 11 empowered girls stood in front of family and friends and made a public commitment to abstain from sex until marriage.

The ceremony, held at the Dr. Martin Luther King School Complex, was the culmination of a series of workshops titled "True Love Waits," in which the girls, ages 12 to 16, met with advisers and addressed issues such as self-empowerment, self-confidence and sexual abstinence.

The highlight of the ceremony was when the girls received their purity rings, or in the case of three returning attendees, a silver pendant, which symbolized their commitment to the values they learned.

Indra Owens, founder of Princess, Inc., welcomed the gathering and reminded the teens that regardless of the circumstances in which they're living, the message to them was, "You are a princess through it all."

Speaking during the ceremony was keynote speaker Minister Kiesha Howard, of New Hope Baptist Church in Atlantic City, whose message was about making the right choices and the power of having self-worth.

A reception followed the ceremony, in which the girls, their families and the program mentors enjoyed light refreshments.

New this year, each of the girls received a swag bag filled with hair care products and coupons from KinHairitage Salon and Spa, a Pleasantville-based hair care salon, samples and gift products from local businesses, and a pearl necklace set. The contents were all either donated or purchased by the organization, Owens said.

The Princess, Inc. program is in its second year of providing teens a mentoring program as an information source, rather than youths seeking advice from peers. Through intense mentoring and activities, the teens are given the message that they have the potential and intelligence to overcome life's obstacles and aspire to be an asset to their community and to the world.

"A lot of times as adults, especially in urban communities, we are quick to judge the young ladies we see as teenage moms," Owens commented. "So when a forum is available to offer guidance and opportunities to these young girls, we as adults should be encouraging."

Other than the sessions, the group is also involved in volunteering at local organizations and soup kitchens, Owens said.

She said she is encouraged by the number of teens participating so far, but hopes to attract an even greater number for next year's program.

The four-week sessions are open for all young women ages 13 to 22 in the Pleasantville and Atlantic City area. Minors must get a parental consent form signed before participating. New membership for the next sessions begin in December, Owens said.

For more information, see

princessinc.org or call Owens at 609-287-4235.

Contact Lucia C. Drake:

609-272-7295