Inaugural NCNW Young Women’s Conference


ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg Metropolitan Section of the National Council of Negro Women held their inaugural Black Pearls Young Women’s Conference April 22 at John Hopkins Middle School.

The event featured two free workshops for female youth ages 11 to 18 years old. Certified Zumba® instructor and Gibbs High School science teacher Bahiyyah Sadiki got everyone in the spirit with an exercise routine accompanied by The O’Jays’ “Put Your Hands Together.”

Pinellas County School Board member Rene Flowers lead the workshop “Living to Win InThe Skin I’m In.”

“So if someone says ‘you think you’re all that, what are you going to say,’” inquired Flowers, in a self-image building routine.

She joined in on the girls’ response to model how confident they should sound when they say “Yes, I’m all that and then some!” Flowers shared with the girls how African-American actress Gabrielle Union gives props to herself every morning by reading positive affirmations on her wall and headboard.

Audrey “Pat” McGhee of AP Designs moderated the workshop “Fabulous ‘n’ The Skin You’re In.” McGhee’s presentation further emphasized the power and beauty of self-confidence.

“Whenever I see a roadblock, I just hop right on it and keep right on going because I refuse to let anybody tell me that I can’t do it or I can’t make it,” said McGhee.

In addition to the female youth workshops, the conference featured three adult workshops for both men and women: “Living ‘N’ the Skin You’re In,” “Celebrating The Skin I’m In” and “Travel Lightly.” Workshop speakers included Lola Blevins, Rev. Pearl Snell and Lucy Williams.

Outreach Lead Advocate for Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) Blevins shared in the adult workshop her role in working with both parents and children in an abusive situation, and how what she does evolves into different levels of bonding.

“Moms are seeing me as a support for their child, and the children are seeing me like a grandma or auntie, and now we’re becoming close,” said Blevins.

Blevins stated that she encourages parents to work closely with their child’s teacher because students bond with their teachers.

She also agreed with one of the adults who said that the young people are being exposed to more troublesome scenarios at a younger age due to real-time media and the music they listen to.

“The kids are not getting pregnant at 1 or 1:30 in the morning, they’re getting pregnant between 4:30 and 6 p.m. when their mom is working to meet family needs,” she said.

Discussions on this theme surfaced again multiple times while Dropout Prevention Supervisor Althea Hudson was moderating discussions.

Just before activities concluded, McGhee asked the girls to line up on one side of the auditorium and allowed each girl to strut her stuff across the front to affirm that they are somebody and will become an even greater somebody in the future.

For more information about the Black Pearls and the National Council of Negro Women, contact Sandra Gibson at (585) 509-9090.

To reach Allen Buchanan, email

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