Girls United Hosts 2022 Day of Service at Ashé Cultural Arts Center
Just before this year’s festivities ESSENCE Cultural Festival spear, united girlsESSENCE’s Gen Z-centric platform, held its second duty day.
Taking place at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center, New Orleans natives, ESSENCE volunteers and staff came together to serve the Louisiana community with activations, performances and even a special surprise for all the kids in attendance. Sponsored by Coca Cola, McDonald’s, disneyand AT&Tthis year’s Day of Service went off without a hitch starting with a press conference featuring remarks by Caroline Wanga, CEO of ESSENCE, reality TV star and author Antonia “Toya” Johnson, Mayor of New Orleans LaToya Cantrelland co-creator of Girls United Rechelle Dennis.
With 230 campers across six NOLA organizations – including KUUMBA Academy, Future Femmes, Dancing Grounds, Studio BElite Collective, Youth Empowerment Project and Mic-Amped Summer Leadership Project – 2022 Girls United Day of Service was another success! With youthful performances from Warron Easton High School Band and Dancing Grounds, and spinning tunes from DJ Arie spinschildren, teens and young adults came together to celebrate the beautiful culture of the city of New Orleans.
GU Day of Service also included an HBCU Peer-to-Peer panel moderated by the Associate Editor D’Shonda Brown. HBCU students Sion Rouege (Xavier University)Nina Giddens (Xavier University)Tiana Thomas (University of South Baton Rouge)Daryelle Dehhonah Mitchell (University of Southern New Orleans)and Aaliyah Ali (Dillard University) joined Brown on stage for a chat about their HBCU experiences. Campers ages 16 and up learned from students about being student leaders in their communities, how to apply for HBCUs, and the advice they would give to incoming freshmen and interested prospects.
While older campers enjoyed the panel, younger attendees engaged in rotating activations including Mardi Gras beading to learn about the creative side of New Orleans culture, Drumming Circle to highlight historical significance and modern interpretation, and Art Painting of Ashe Mobile, where participants had the opportunity to paint a mobile mural throughout the Youth Block Party.
Rounding out the afternoon, Brown and ESSENCE Gen-Z Editor Brooklyn White presented the Shining Star Day of Service Awards to attendees. With this special recognition, Target awarded Ashe campers $100 gift cards at the end of the day for exemplifying leadership and black cheer throughout the day’s activities. They also each received tote bags including Day of Service certificates signed by Girls United co-founder Rechelle Dennis, McDonald’s gift cards and “I Have A Mayor Named LaToya” written by Charell G Coleman about the mayor of New Orleans LaToya Cantrell.
At the end of the program, Disney Dreamers Academy Principal Tracey Powell presented the “Watch Them Grow” scholarship to members of St. Augustine High School. The eight $2,500 scholarships were awarded to eight families of students in grades 9 through 12 with GPAs ranging from 3.1 to 4.63. Beneficiaries included Pierce Marshall, Kaden Kelly, Kenyon Hughes, Bryce Robinson, Samuel Bonds, Turner Duncan, Daunte Kelly, Shane Payton-Hodges, and Malcolm Venable.
As a special surprise, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and New Orleans native Amber performed for campers as well as parents and volunteers.
To learn more about Girls United, visit girlsunited.essence.com.