Young ladies in the Clinton area are being given a chance to find inspiration, meet new people and learn about all kinds of opportunities, all the while creating change in their own neighborhoods through a program called All Girls Rock. Tiena Smith, the creator of All Girls Rock, says that her inspiration came from Wilmington when she met a group of young girls there one weekend that were putting on a holiday fashion show.
All Girls Rock is for girls ages 8 to 17 in the local community to gather together to learn about life and what it has to offer.
Starting in the new year they will be meeting at the American Legion building on Southwest Boulevard. In order to use the building they have made an agreement to clean up the facility on the Saturdays they meet. The group meets from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., usually on the third Saturday of the month, but Smith said that could change.
“I have a mentor from this group in Wilmington, and she explained what she does with the girls,” said Smith. Her mentor, Toni Whitaker, has shown Smith how to organize her own group here in Clinton.
“Whitaker inspired me to do it,” said Smith. “I wanted to get these girls together with some staff.” The group started meeting and, Smith said, they have all loved it. All Girls Rock held their first meeting in February, and around 30 girls came out to the event. The girls have participated in a variety of events, including a magazine launch party, and there are other events planned for the coming year.
“We have recognized some of the girls for their academics,” said Smith. “We are planning some college tours for the girls and we are working on a roadside cleanup project as well.” Each time the girls meet, which is usually the third Saturday each month, the group works on journal discussions and table talk discussions.
“We want this to be a group of girls of all races and backgrounds,” said Smith. “I want to encourage girls to get involved.”
“Our goal is to bring girls together and form a sisterhood,” said Smith. “This is about staying positive, and we are trying to set an example for these girls.” Her staff of seven, which includes herself and six others, are determined to be good role models for these young ladies. The other members of the staff include Nickell Boykin, Latasha Smith, Anisha Newman, Kimberly Williams, Angie Boykin and Cristina Johnson.
“I enjoy being with these girls and meeting these girls,” said Nickell Boykin. “They always want to know when their next meeting is going to be.”
Smith said that each one of the staff have particular jobs and that they all work together to ensure the group has a solid foundation. When the girls meet they share snacks and spend time together, inspiring one another and learning from one an other. One of the most recent events the girls participated in was a back to school meeting.
Laniyah Smith, a student from Sunset Avenue School, said that she is learning about modeling.
“I want to meet friends,” said Laniyah in an interview Wednesday. “I don’t want to be shy.” Laniyah enjoys modeling and hopes to be famous one day, famous for the right reasons,. she insists. She like writing poetry and making up stories. For her, writing in the journals is extremely beneficial. Laniyah said she wants to be a veterinarian one day and is interested in cosmetology. She wants to go to college, but says she plans on staying close to home.
Nickell Boykin said that some girls are dealing with personal struggles, and she hopes this group makes them realize there is more to life than just struggles, and that there is always someone there to help them through.
The group is looking for volunteers to continue to grow the group and help with events. They plan to match up the girls with mentors in hopes to get them speaking up in their communities and taking away the shyness and lack of self-confidence so often present in youth.
A senior at Clinton High School, Nikia Smith said that she also wants to go to college, and is looking at East Carolina University. She said that she is interested in pediatric nursing and also cosmetology.
“I am in this program to show younger kids what to expect in the real world,” said Nikia. “I want to set an example for the younger kids.” Nikia is involved in the step team at Clinton High School, called the Clinton High Troopers, and she is the captain of the team. She said that she likes braiding hair and that she wants to own a hair salon one day.
“This keeps me out of trouble and out of bad situations,” said Nikia.
“We want to learn from each other,” said Tiena Smith in an interview on Monday. Smith said that the organization is low key and that no one is pressured to be there. She wants girls to be there because they want to be. Fashion shows are planned, along with a trip to South Carolina, and Smith said some of the girls want to model. Future plans include the possibility of traveling to the beach and going bowling.
“We want the girls to stay positive,” said Smith. To find out more information please visit their Facebook page by searching “All Girls Rock” or email Smith at email@example.com
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org