Louisiana senior enhances English language skills in Spanish-speaking students, braids hair through self-created charitable program

Louisiana senior enhances English language skills in Spanish-speaking students, braids hair through self-created charitable program
PHOTO: Neighbors Federal Credit Union

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Armed with only $100 and a vision for what she could do to improve the lives of youth in Baton Rouge, high school student Emily Seighman rummaged through local stores searching for the perfect children’s books and hair care products.

Once a week, Seighman visits Denham Springs Elementary School with the goal being to help four children learn to read while braiding their hair before school. Three of the children speak English as a second language and are listed as ESL students - meaning they are Spanish-speaking at home.

“The only time they get exposed to English is here at school. So, them coming in and getting their hair done while learning to read is pretty awesome,” Seighman said.

PHOTO: Neighbors FCU
PHOTO: Neighbors FCU

It’s all done as part of what she calls the “Books and Braids” program. In 2017, Neighbors Federal Credit Union invited high schools students from the Greater Baton Rouge area to submit an essay outlining a community improvement project that could be accomplished using only $100. Seighman, a graduating senior at Walker High School, proposed her “Books and Braids” program.

Neighbors FCU, no stranger to rewarding acts of kindness in the Baton Rouge community, was ultimately won over due to the minimal nature of the project, but huge impact it could have for children in the community.

“Sometimes it’s a matter of how to give rather than how much you should give,” Neighbors FCU president and CEO Steve Webb said. “We commend Emily for her outstanding idea and efforts, and are committed to supporting educational programs in the communities we serve.”

Walker High School recently named Seighman “Student of the Year.”

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