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‘Self Talk’ empowers young women

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / During the session entitled “What Is Praise?” attendees watched a praise dance performance and talked about the influence of the tradition.

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / During the session entitled “What Is Praise?” attendees watched a praise dance performance and talked about the influence of the tradition.

While the sun was shining upon its cloudless domain outside, a group of women and girls from Brookhaven and surrounding areas gathered inside Fannie E. Mullins Middle School for a three-hour symposium Saturday.

The event was a collaboration between the Pike County Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and community group, Rising Star. The participants were girls belonging to the Delta sorority’s youth group, Delta GEMS (Girls Empowering and Mentoring), girls from the Rising Star organization and girls from the area communities.

With the title “Self Talk” the symposium was composed of six 20-minutes workshops, which groups of girls alternated throughout. The mission of the event was to “help young women understand themselves by focusing on positive self talk, the power of forgiveness, self-love and discipline; to encourage young women to think about ways to best represent themselves in social media, while guiding them to become all they can be.”

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / Erica Nelson, left, of the Delta GEMs group helps two of the Self Talk program attendees sign-in and get name tags.

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / Erica Nelson, left, of the Delta GEMs group helps two of the Self Talk program attendees sign-in and get name tags.

President of the Delta sorority chapter, Melanie McEwen, said the Delta GEMS group was born from an initiative from the sorority’s national organization.

McEwen said her chapter serves a five-county area bringing between 45 and 50 girls ages 13 to 18 from Pike, Lincoln, Walthall, Amite and Wilkinson counties to make up the GEMs group.

Rising Star is a youth mentoring program that co-founders Falana McDaniel and LaTasha Fields say is a youth mentoring program to inspire the empowerment of youth for the glory of God. The group, which has a roll of 30 or more young mentees, hosts monthly meetings, workshops, one-on-one mentoring and encouragement in every area of their youth’s life.

Saturday morning, both of these groups and their young people came together for sessions with titles: Phenomenal Young Woman, What is Praise?, Who Am I?, I Am Beautiful‚ Inner and Outer Beauty, Why Go to College and Social Media.

Mackenye Fields, one of the attendees, is 15 years old and attends Brookhaven High School. She said her favorite workshop was the one about inner and outer beauty.

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / During the session “I Am Beautiful,” leaders, Valerie Sterling and Rosalyn Brown led a discussion about understanding individual differences and encouraged their female participants to be their own selves

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / During the session “I Am Beautiful,” leaders, Valerie Sterling and Rosalyn Brown led a discussion about understanding individual differences and encouraged their female participants to be their own selves

“It gives girls a chance to know about themselves,” Mackenye said. “I liked the inspiration.”

“We encourage our girls to be individuals first,” McEwen said about the Delta Gems. “We want to inform them about current events in the world and to give them so much of the knowledge they aren’t getting in school.”

McEwen said that this is exemplified in some of the sessions that the girls participated in Saturday. Each session was led by a Delta or community mentor, and the girls were chaperoned and constantly in friendly banter with Delta and Rising Star mentors.

“You want them to listen,” McEwen said. “When you engage them in conversation you have them listening.”

Latasha Fields shares a similar sentiment when discussing her motivation to start Rising Star with McDaniels.

“I have younger girls, and there’s not much to do if you don’t have a lot of money,” LaTasha Fields said.

She said one of her daughters was dealing with bullying at her school and it would have been nice for her to have someone to talk to.

“I wanted her to have some positive in her life.”

The Pike County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Delta GEMs have monthly meetings where they focus on empowerment, college applications and self-motivation skills. President McEwen said they also have meetings where they go bowling or have sleepovers just to have fun.

“We’re on the forefront of social issues in the state and our community,” McEwwan said and described that this consists of monitoring activity around schools, especially the conversations around charter schools and their impact on the area. She said the organization plans to continue to be in the forefront to issues concerning young people, especially young women. They chapter can be contacted at pike.co.ms.dst@gmail.com

Rising Star also has monthly meetings and, although initially created for the mentoring of young girls, has started taking on young boys as mentees as well. Rising Star administrators say the community has been very responsive and supportive.

“We want them to grow, experience new things and have community-based things to do around Brookhaven,” McDaniel said.

Rising Star encourages those interested to contact Falana McDaniel at 601-757-3614 or Shayla Tate at 601-324-1084 and look for Rising Star events in the calendar.