Lifestyle

Yawkey Club teens to receive free dresses

Nia Simpson, 16, left, and Regina Mendez, 16, try on their new dresses in the locker room. A group of girls received party dresses at the Boys and Girls Club of Boston.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff
Nia Simpson, 16, left, and Regina Mendez, 16, try on their new dresses in the locker room. A group of girls received party dresses at the Boys and Girls Club of Boston.

A handful of young women in Roxbury received new holiday dresses Wednesday at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston: Yawkey Club of Roxbury.

The girls selected to participate in the event are actively involved in the club’s Girls Group, which meets Wednesdays and emphasizes self-esteem. The holiday dresses are rewards for their participation, according to Jennifer Medina, teen advocate at the Roxbury club.

The dresses were donated by local entrepreneur Sam Sisakhti.

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“The fact that he’s giving away free dresses is amazing,” Medina said. “I love the whole idea of it.”

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Sisakhti has previously made similar donations to Boys and Girls Clubs elsewhere, including Chicago and Bangor, Maine.

He has launched what he calls the “Believe in Yourself” project, intended to build confidence and empower young people.

“I ask each of them what their goal is,” Sisakhti said. “Then I say, ‘If that’s your goal, what’s your plan to reach that?’”

Longtime member of the Yawkey Club Nia Simpson, 16, says she needs a dress for a Sweet 16 party. She said she was excited to see the dresses and ask the entrepreneur about what inspired him.

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“I think it’s great that he’s giving back,” Simpson said. “I also want to be a fashion designer. It’s cool because you get to express yourself in your work and have kids wear it.”

Rachel Rodgers, an associate professor in the Department of Applied Psychology at Northeastern University, attended the Yawkey Club event as a mentor and to speak to the girls about social media and body image.

“One of the reasons that Sam started ‘Believe in Yourself’ was in response to the rates of body shaming and bullying online,” Rodgers wrote in an e-mail. “Social media is highly visual and image-based, and rates of these harmful types of interactions are high.”

Cristela Guerra can be reached at cristela.guerra@globe.com.