Flower Girls reception

Flower Girls Reception

BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — The vision of The Gathering of Women’s Flower Girls outreach program is to create a positive space for girls that addresses their issues and concerns. It also includes old fashion values and etiquette that their mothers and grandmothers were taught.

Launched last fall, the Flower Girls were named in honor of René Flowers, a community leader, activist, former city council member and Pinellas County School Board Member of District 7.

Last Sat., April 11 at the Suncoast Hospice St. Petersburg Community Center, a fine reception was held for parents and grandparents of some 16 beautiful young ladies that have blossomed into full bloom since the program’s inception six months ago.

Today’s young ladies are assaulted daily by negative images both outside and sometimes inside their homes. They are filled with self-doubt and question their own self-worth, but members of the Flowers Girls are taught to respect themselves, to be proud of their heritage, to be confident that whatever they decide to do they can do it and to set and obtain goals.

These girls learned proper etiquette, community involvement, health, merit, praise dancing, the arts and sisterhood. They explored and share their hopes and dreams through creative projects, journaling, group presentations and team building exercises.

“I named the program after René because she represents leadership and education and has a voice in setting the direction for our schools,” said Samantha Richardson, chair of the Gathering of Women. “Learning and achievement for all students is her primary focus. These are education key factors that we want our Flower Girls to be involved in.”

Flowers was present to witness the program’s reception firsthand. She watched with a gleam in her eye as the girls dance, song praises to her and presented her with a single flower while telling her why they chose to give it to her.

“I am so proud of them to be able to get up and put on a presentation with such elegance and grace. That’s the part that sometimes is not portrayed of our young ladies in the community. We see the negative side of them, but we don’t often see everything that is going on here,” said Flowers.

A meal fit for a queen was served after the program, and the young ladies forgot they were in beautiful white dresses and ran around the room as if they were on a playground.

To learn more about the program, please log on to thegatheringofwomen.com or call (727) 433-1352.

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