Girls camp aims to motivate young women

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The keynote speaker for the 13 Going on 30 girls’ day camp on Saturday sought to instill confidence and self-esteem in the girls who attended the weekend event.

“You take everything in life and you make it for your good,” LeCourtney Young-Harness said. “Don’t you ever let anything bring you down. If I tell you anything let it be this: Don’t let anything bring you down. Whatever you close your eyes and imagine yourself being, you can do that.”

The free event for girls ages 9 to 18 was held at the Brookhaven Parks and Recreation Department and featured several hours of activities and interaction with mentors.

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“Y’all don’t ever let anything that anyone says to you get you down,” Young-Harness said during her talk. “Don’t look at it, because I guarantee you it’s something wonderful that they see so they try to find the littlest thing that they can think of to point out to you to try to make you hurt and make you feel bad cause it’s something about them.”

Young-Harness was most recently seen in the biopic about James Brown, “Get on Up,” where she portrayed Brown’s girlfriend Marva Whitney. But she isn’t just an actress. Young-Harness was an involved, accomplished student who has since started several organizations and companies including outreach programs. She also works as a local radio show host in Mississippi and as an assistant in a law office.

Photo by Kaitlin Mullins LeCourtney Young-Harness (left) speaks to a group of young women Saturday in an effort to instill confidence and self-esteem.

Photo by Kaitlin Mullins
LeCourtney Young-Harness (left) speaks to a group of young women Saturday in an effort to instill confidence and self-esteem.

Self-confidence, bullies, role models, peer pressure and being a leader were among the main subjects discussed in groups of the girls and mentors. At the end of the program, area girls talked about their goals and what they learned in conversations with their mentors and each other.

Messages from girls ranged from, “I learned about college and things you can do to be who you want to be,” to “I learned that you should watch who you have as your friends and always look to positive people to be role models.” Some girls said “I want to graduate high school and then go on to be a nurse practitioner,” and there were many girls who said they learned about the importance of confidence.

The event was hosted by Britney Clark, a speaker and mentor who grew up in Brookhaven. She is one of 35 ambassadors for the Miss Mississippi’s 13 Going on 30 platform.

“Today was awesome, it was everything that I had envisioned,” Clark said. ” For the girls to break off into their different groups with the different mentors by their ages was good so they could get a closer idea of what they wanted to do and someone could lead them through that path mentally. And hopefully they can apply it themselves when they get to that point in their life. It was awesome, and I’m very grateful.”

The girls received lunch, goody bags, T-shirts and more from area sponsors: Sen. Sally Doty, Thayer Church of Christ, Girls Scouts of Greater Mississippi, N2Books Scholarships, Herbalife, Fox’s Pizza Den, Bowie’s BBQ, Janie’s Bakery, Wal-Mart Supercenter, Shell Gas Station and Kenny King Photography.