Beautifully and Wonderfully Made

Posted: April 18, 2012 by ERCPCP Blogger in Uncategorized

On Saturday, March 24, 2012, hundreds of women and girls from the DC area and beyond came together for the return of ERCPCP’s beloved “Girl Talk” Conference!  This event, annually held in March to honor Women’s History Month, was an empowering day of fellowship, dialogue, sisterhood, coaching, prizes and more.  There were more than 350 people in attendance to include mentors, volunteers, students, exhibitors, speakers, entertainers, ERCPCP staff, etc. all there for the sole purpose of supporting, teaching and learning from one another.  The atmosphere at the Academies at Anacostia was phenomenal as speakers from various walks of life took the floor to give attendees their interpretation of what it means to be Beautifully and Wonderfully Made: Mind, Body and Soul. 

As always, the day’s events began with an opening ceremony, a pep rally of sorts, where participants were treated to a warm welcome from Ms. Jhae’ Ali, Motivational Speaker and Afterschool Coordinator  at Anacostia HS.  Jhae’s message of focusing on “who you want to be” over focusing on “what you want to be” really set the tone for the day!  She was followed by Communications specialist and former “Girl Talk” participant Sharece Crawford who encouraged the participants to “be hungry” for all of the knowledge and resources that the conference would have to offer, from the mentorship to the workshop presentations, and discussed the personal impact that mentor and conference coordinator D’Sheka Perkins has had on her life. 

Further, the captivated audience heard from US Army Command Sargeant Major Tracey Anbiya who engaged the audience in a little call and response then shared a touching story about a woman who was running a race and continued to fall.  While she was motivated to get up and continue the first couple of times, the feeling of shame and disappointment almost prevented her from pressing forward thereafter.  CSM Anbiya noted that as in most of our daily lives, the easy thing would have been for the woman to give up, but due to the encouragement of those around her, she pressed forward though she had no chance of winning at this point.  When the runner crossed the finish line, she was stunned to find that the crowd greeted her with an even bigger cheer and applause than that which was given to the winner because, they were so proud of her for hanging in there and finishing the race in spite of her many falls along the way.  Mrs. Anbiya closed by encouraging ladies to “never give up” in spite of the challenges faced on their journey, noting that these challenges help you to become beautifully and wonderfully made.

Other highlights of the opening ceremony included the lyrical stylings of Princess Best (Princess of Controversy), a liturgical dance by the youth dance ministry of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden and the powerful remarks of ERCPCP’s Executive Director, Rev. Donald Isaac, who moved the crowd to their feet by acknowledging the various conference contributors, including “the one who did the most work of all”… God!  The mood was set as “Girl Talk” Mentor Coordinator, Deborah Stevenson, took the floor to conduct one of the most anticipated events of the morning, the mentor/mentee meet and greet!

Motivated and excited about what was in store, mentors and mentees alike departed the opening ceremony and set off to enjoy a number of workshops, as well as the exhibit hall, which were all customized just for them.  Youth workshops touched on topics such as self love, media influences, domestic violence, sexual promiscuity, self esteem and financial literacy, while mentor workshops dealt with relationship building skills and empowered mentors to overcome personal challenges in order to become effective mentors.  All workshops were designed to help women of all ages and backgrounds to overcome their unique challenges and to use them as stepping stones as they work to reach the next level. 

During the workshop Perfect Illusions: The Media’s Influence led by Goldie Deane of Females Representing Every Side of Hip-Hop (F.R.E.S.H.H. Inc) participants learned about Self-Identification as Goldie encouraged participants “to decide to be something outside of the boxes” established by mainstream media and society.  Part 2 of this workshop was presented by Rashida McKenzie of Sisciety, Inc. who also taught participants to decipher the messages portrayed in the media.  Worth the Wait workshop presenter DeShuna Spencer opened up about her personal journey of overcoming sexual promiscuity and encouraged girls to truly value their bodies.  This is just a glimpse into the youth workshops conducted by our incredible lineup of presenters who include: Jamedra Aikens of Royal Proteges, Inc. (Miss Independent), Queen Afi Gaston of Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags (Through the Fire), Tina Fletcher of Dream Girls DMV (Beautiful Me) and Sadé Nicholson of Creatrix Christian Enterprises who traveled all the way from North Carolina to present the Real Love workshop where each participant was provided with her own handheld mirror and customizable puzzle to teach about agape love. 

Mentors were also treated to two incredible workshops seeking to help them improve their relationship building skills with mentees.  The first, “Real Love: Who Am I? My Testimony, My Triumph” presented by Barbara Holt Streeter of the PR and Protocol Group, focused on helping mentors to overcome self issues so that they could become more effective with their mentees.  To compliment this workshop focused on self-evaluation, mentors also experienced “Real Love: I Am My Sister’s Keeper” presented by Dr. Lisa Fiddermon of Trinity Light Ministries which sought to teach the principles of sisterhood. 

In addition to the workshops, all participants were able to enjoy a wonderfully crafted exhibit hall filled with youth/female friendly vendors and resource providers ranging from high school sororities and HIV/Aids Awareness organizations to makers of women’s fashion and hand crafted jewelry.

Following a deliciously catered lunch, the afternoon proved to be as exciting as the morning session when attendees reconvened in the gymnasium to hear a keynote presentation by Dr. Tiffani Bailey Lash and Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Owners and Co-Founders of Tea and Honey Blends Hair Care and the Brilliant and Beautiful Foundation.  Drs. Lash and Dubroy, spoke to participants about dreaming big, and pursuing their passion.  Dr. Dubroy shared stories about growing up in Jamaica, spending countless days in her mother’s hair shop watching her mom style hair and concoct her own homemade hair conditioner and Dr. Lash recounted her adolescence, growing up in North Carolina, filled with a long standing passion to own her own hair shop.  The two women, having taken very different paths through undergrad, met while pursuing their doctoral degrees in chemistry from the University of North Carolina.  Upon becoming good friends, Tiffani and Tashni discussed their dreams with one another and eventually decided to go into business together.  Tea and Honey Blends, a dream realized for both women, is the product of that collaboration. 

Each girl was encouraged to strive to go as far as she could with her education.  “Work to get your PhD”, directed Dr. Dubroy as she and Dr. Lash challenged girls to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and to place significant value on higher education.  They also encouraged youth to begin using social media for business and personal advancement as opposed to allowing it to be a distraction or time wasting mechanism.  Finally, in driving the point home, participants were invited to tweet “I am brilliant and beautiful Dr. (insert name here)” to @THBhaircare affirming that they are “dedicated to becoming an educated entrepreneur.” 

Following the keynote presentation, attendees had the pleasure of hearing a few selections by R&B/Soul singer YahZarah whose amazing voice was the perfect end to a beautiful day!  As participants departed, they were eager and excited to share their thoughts with us.  One woman commented, “next year this needs to take place at the convention center.”  One youth noted that she had to get up so early and was hesitant at first, but was so glad that she had come because she had a great time and was grateful for the opportunity to attend.  The feedback continued to come in the weeks to follow.  

We were extremely pleased with the turnout and return of our signature “Girl Talk” Conference!  It is hard to put into words the gratitude that we feel for the countless men and women that traveled from places near and far to help make “Girl Talk” 2012 a success!  From the reigning Ms. Chesterfield, who traveled from Chesterfield, VA to serve as a mentor, to the Ms. Nicholson and singer YahZarah who brought their gifts up Interstate 95, from the state of North Carolina to share with our young ladies.  We can’t neglect to acknowledge the amazing staff at Anacostia Senior High School as well as all the amazing women of all ages who gave of their time to serve as mentors, speakers and volunteers.  Thank you so much!  ERCPCP looks forward to working with all of our new found partners to continue to enhance the conference in the future.  Thanks to everyone who helped to make this day a great day!

Stay tuned for details on the return of our signature Man2Man Conference for young men. 

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