'Finishing school' aims to improve lives of urban girls

A program is working to transform young girls into more poised ladies who may be better prepared to take on the world.
Young girls wearing their best dressed attended a tea this week at a Bronx banquet hall as part of a "finishing school" aimed at urban youths.
"We're going to walk out with swag," instructor Pamela Damon told her students during the tea. For Damon, "swag" stands for sophistication, wise, accomplished and graceful girls.
Damon, also known as Lady Pamela to her pupils, said she saw a lack self-esteem and a lack of instruction in mannerisms such as speaking and walking properly. She even instructs her students in improving their posture.
"This program has changed me to make me a better person," said one pupil.
Damon started Flawless Girlz about 15 years ago in Queens and is now bringing the program to the Bronx. She said she has often seen transformations happen in her students in as little as five days.
"I was nervous because I didn't want to do it," said another pupil. "I've learned how to be myself and have a great, positive attitude."
Such qualities have helped transform Damon's past students into successful women who work as lawyers, teachers and more, according to Damon.
"Once you have self-confidence, then you know there's nothing that you can't do," said Damon.
Starting in the fall, Damon's pupils will be able to continue their education with a full eight-week program.