Cortia Bingham’s inspiration

By KIMBERLEY HIBBERT

Monday, February 13, 2017

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SHE struts proudly with blonde hair and a radiant yellow blouse, automatically commanding the attention of everyone in the room. Her megawatt smile will soften any heart, and her warm personality pulls you in. Meet Cortia Bingham, the flagship person behind We Inspire Women.


But though she exudes such confidence and strength of character, Bingham tells All Woman that things weren’t always peachy, and it took determination and purpose on her part to break through barriers and chart a successful course in life.


"I’ve had a lot of experiences in my life — struggles — and having to overcome [them] with a change in my mindset. Last year when I was about to get married, I had an epiphany. I was sitting one day looking back at where I was coming from, where I had to overcome abuse while in high school, and what I had to do to overcome similar types of abuse when I became an adult, and struggling with my self-worth," she told All Woman.


"I found a way to overcome that, and it was really by changing my inner conversation and edifying myself with uplifting material. So I started to read books and listen to Les Brown, Oprah, Lisa Nichols, and I realised that I had the power to change my trajectory and my direction, so my life got better over the past five years," she said.


As a result of her new-found confidence and self-assuredness, Bingham decided she could not keep it to herself and started ‘We Inspire Women’ — a network of successful women sharing their stories to effect change in others.


"Last year April I came up with the brand. I started to applaud myself and forgive myself for whatever mistakes I had made. I was at this holistic place where I was completely happy and felt that abundance happening. So now it was my duty to share with people what they could do to get beyond pain and not using their pain for their demise, but their success," she said.


That conference served as a springboard for a new idea from Bingham — We Inspire Girls To Be Strong Women — an initiative in the form of a school tour which will be rolled out in March, to positively impact the inner conversations of high school girls across the island through motivational speeches.


"We Inspire Women attracted over 800 women and extended on social media. The feedback was wonderful, so I thought about how I could further effect change, and my mind went back to the abuse in high school. I thought if I had somebody, an example to see how it looks at the end of this journey of hurt, I would have learnt a little bit earlier what it felt like to be whole," Bingham said.


"There was this burning passion to go back and do for these girls what I didn’t get for myself. I came up with ‘We Inspire Girls To Be Strong Women’, and the strong women are the influential Jamaican women who are making an impact on people’s lives, who have been through the same struggles, gone to high school in Jamaica, and found a way to carve out a niche and be successful in it. There is a saying that people change [by learning] from examples, not by what they tell them. They have to see it, but we are showing them that after all these struggles, after all these challenges, this is what the journey can look like if they emulate these women."


Some of the women set to speak on the tour include Diahann Gordon-Harrison, children’s advocate; Dianne Edwards, attorney-at-law and director for legal affairs at Spectrum Management Authority; Gladys Brown, Superintendent of Police and attorney-at-law; Sheree Martin, senior vice president JPSCo; Justice Marva McDonald Bishop, appellate judge, Court of Appeal; Paula Llewellyn, Director of Public Prosecutions; and Dr Claudine Lewis, cardiologist and medical director at Heart Smart Centre.


"In March, straight through to May, we will be going to 15 schools across Jamaica and speaking to grades 10 and 11 girls, just talking about our lives and how we moved past the pain. Life is not easy, we have different pitfalls, but it paves the way for success. Some schools have asked that I include grade nine. I specifically chose these grade levels because I do believe that it is a great opportunity to provide constructive intervention at a very critical time in their lives, considering that they are often preyed upon by unscrupulous societal elements. At each stop we’re looking at least 350 students, and that for me is huge. We know that the best public relations and marketing is word of mouth, but if we can have the conversation with 350 students, convert say 300 students, we’re looking at another 300 parents, friends, communities implementing that change. Many young women are impoverished, abused sexually, and it pains my heart, because when you stop a young girl’s growth and development like that with abuse, you damage the next generation, and what is our next generation going to look like? If we’re damaging our young people, will we be able to live in this country in the next few years?"


Bingham added that the timeline for the tour is strategically placed, as she believes that giving the extra jolt and fuel right before the examination period will boost the academic performance of the girls.


Apart from the tour, Bingham has her sights set on doing a televised programme, continuing the school tour next year on a larger scale, and staging a bigger version of We Inspire Women this August. She is also aiming to coordinate a ‘funch’ — finesse lunch — for girls who are impoverished, so they can get the opportunity to experience fine dining, share their stories, and be motivated.

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