SHE heads the list of three female champions in charity for season five of Ashley Furniture Homestore Jamaica's Couch Conversations series for 2023, and Stacey McKenzie, a Jamaican-born international model, runway coach, and motivational speaker, says she has always been looking out for, and mentoring youth.
"I've always gone back to my community to speak to the youth by way of encouragement and mentoring. On a particular trip, a young boy told me that I'm the only one from their community that comes back to look for the youth. I was surprised and disheartened at the same time about this. I then took a couple of months off work and dedicated my time to coming up with a solution," McKenzie said.
The model became more popularly known after appearing on reality shows like America's Next Top Model, Canada's Next Top Model, and the hit television series Power and Utopia Falls, and has also graced runways in Paris, London, Milan, and New York, wearing luxury designers.
"I'm known for my runway walk, but I'm also known for my journey and the struggles I've encountered throughout my career," she shared.
And so she came up with The Walk Camp, which sees different mentors from different industries sharing their stories of struggle, obstacles, and triumphs with vulnerable girls.
"Afterwards, the mentors give the girls a workshop, teaching them how to get into their particular industry," she said.
The Walk Camp, launched in 2013, is a free two-week summer camp for girls ages 12 to 16. Each summer, McKenzie selects 20 to 30 girls from inner-city schools and communities near where she was raised, and they are coached on topics from insiders within the arts, entertainment, financial education, fashion, business, health, and wellness fields.
Some mentors have included singer Nadine Sutherland; model Nadine Willis; fashion designer Carlton Brown; and actor Everaldo Creary.
Annually, through Ashley Furniture Homestore's Couch Conversations, strong women with a passion for charity are engaged by the global furniture distribution store, and their charities promoted with the hope of garnering donations and support from viewers and donors online.
The series was launched on Ashley Furniture Homestore Jamaica's website and Instagram on October 13.
Meanwhile, McKenzie said her next big The Walk Camp project will be partnering with Food for The Poor Jamaica to build a home for a family.
Ashley has saluted McKenzie for having the vision and the follow-through to make a tangible change in the lives of young Jamaicans.
"We are proud to support her efforts by making a donation to The Walk Camp, and we encourage others to do the same," they said.