Women in media help girls rise to the occasion

All Woman

MORE than 120 teenage girls in Jamaica will be equipped with the skills and mental capacity to rise from their current circumstances, thanks to three women who deliberately set out to create a six-month intervention programme to help them do just that.

The programme, conceptualised by marketer and publisher Kith-Ann Excell, author and political representative Krystal Tomlinson, and health & fitness coach Kamila McDonald, is called 'Rise to the Occasion', and was fittingly launched at Skyline Levels earlier this month.

“It signifies the momentum — that there is always another level to go. There is always further and higher to reach but it takes deliberate action and you need to first establish where you are on the ladder, what is above that you are reaching for, and how to get there,” explained co-conceptualiser Tomlinson.

“We are really passionate as young women about helping women, and especially ensuring that girls growing up in Jamaica understand what they are worth, and what the capacity and potential is that they have to be, no matter where they start from.”

The launch saw over 50 of the girls —who were pulled from various high schools across the country as well as Eve For Life — working in groups to brainstorm and share their experiences while getting to know each other.

The six-month programme officially started on Friday with Tomlinson taking the reins for the first three months. Her programme is broken down into three modules: self-definition and vision boarding; time management and emotional intelligence; and preparing for financial and professional success.

“It took a while for us to give birth to the idea,” Tomlinson told A ll Woman. “We knew that we wanted to work together and we knew that we wanted to work with feminine energies. We started off thinking about what we could do for professional women to build their skills and their capacity, based on our knowledge and what we do professionally. As the months rolled on the idea snowballed into something bigger, more impactful and long term.”

McDonald will then lead the second half of the programme, focusing on the concepts of forgiveness, fear, self-love and self-belief.

“In all of the mistakes that we've learnt from and all of the things that we've experienced and gone through, we've learnt a certain skill set that is valuable to these young women who are our future leaders,” the health and fitness coach said.

McDonald said the spate of intimate partner violence and deaths in recent times demonstrates why more programmes like these are necessary.

“It's not an easy thing to digest so we have to teach and remind our women who they are. We have to help them search for who they are because the stronger we are in who we are, the more we are willing to stand for something, the more that we are not going to allow or even attract certain kinds of people in our lives. We have to mentor them and make sure that they are in positive environments.”

Excell, who will serve as a mentor in the programme, explained why they chose to launch at Skyline Levels.

“Other than the view being amazing, we wanted to give the girls a different 'view' of life,” she said. “I strongly believe that giving people a broader world view significantly impacts how they make decisions. It's easy for our youths to be influenced into a life of crime because many of them believe possibilities are limited rather than limitless. It is through exposure that they will see that they can have and become more.”

She added that they are very happy to have Stanley Motta and Massy Technologies InfoCom Jamaica Limited on board as the programme's long-term partners.

“Stanley Motta has the only all-female board of directors in Jamaica and perhaps in the world, so they know a thing or two about female empowerment. We can't wait to tap into that reservoir of knowledge and power,” she said. “Our sponsors aren't just sponsors, they are investors. They have invested in the lives of our children.”

The other sponsors of the programme are Kremi Ice Cream, Eve for Life, AMCHAM, WATA, CB Foods, Skyline Levels, Teens On Purpose and Kamila's Kitchen.

The women plan to conclude the programme in June with a school tour which they hope will see them reaching over 10,000 girls across the island.

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