“You are the most important person in your life. If you don’t put your oxygen mask on first, you can’t save anyone else.”
This message by Jennifer McDaniels, life coach and mother-in-law of Tarik Black, a center for the NBA’s Houston Rockets and a Ridgeway High School graduate, captivated and encouraged the audience of young women attending Memphis’ Summer GLAM camp.
Summer GLAM (Girls Life Skills Academy Memphis) is a six-week experience that equips young women with life skills to help them transition into young adulthood. The camp is sponsored by the Tarik Black Foundation and is founded by Black’s mother, Judith Moore.
All participants are part of the MPLOY Youth Summer Experience program and are nicknamed “Glamers.” There are 23 participants from ages 16-20 attending the camp at Mt. Olive Cathedral C.M.E Church.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t have any camps to show me how to dress for interviews or how to manage a budget so this camp provides participants with a heads up on life, so they won’t fall into the same trap as I did,” Moore said.
Glamers can look forward to field trips and scheduled speakers set to empower and equip them with real-world life skills.
Last week, Glamers went on a college tour at Lane College (Jackson, Tenn.) and packed lunches for the needy at Mid-South Food Bank as a community service. The Glamers also visited the Brooks Art Museum to see the African-print fashion exhibit.
Other field trips include a visit to Memphis Light, Gas and Water to learn how to apply for utility services, to an apartment building to learn how to sign a lease, to Acura Memphis to learn how to buy a car, to G. Alston restaurant to learn how to cook a healthy inexpensive meal and to Paragon Bank to learn how to manage a budget.
“I’m most excited about going apartment hunting and shopping at IKEA,” said Zenobia Early. “I’ve never been and I also know that I’m going to have to do this eventually so I want to be prepared.”
Speakers addressing the Glamers include Dr. Angela Watson, who will talk about how to pick a physician, what to expect during doctor visits and what kind of questions to ask during those visits; Kelli Cook, a WMC-TV reporter, who will discuss appropriate attire; and McDaniels, who spoke about the importance of self-care.
“I have only been at the camp two days and I have already seen a boost in my confidence,” said Chitera Johnson. “I learned that as long as I remain in my comfort zone, I cannot grow.”
Glamers completed a pre-test, answering questions about buying a car or house, banking and utilities. Their responses were recorded and will be compared at the end of their summer experience.
“We plan to gauge the Glamers’ success with a Dream Sheet and a showcase at the end of their six weeks to display everything they have learned,” Moore said.
Glamers are randomly separated into groups and given the freedom to name their group as they brainstorm ideas for presentation during the summer showcase on July 12.
In correlation with McDaniels’ presentation, Glamers were assigned homework where they spent time reflecting on what they’ve learned and how they can actively apply it to their lives.
“Whenever Ms. McDaniels speaks, it’s like it’s a mirror in front of me and I am writing down all the new things I learn about myself,” Myracle Evans said. “I have never had to deeply look into myself before and that’s the most challenging part – self-reflection.”
(Ariel Hall, a rising senior at LeMoyne-Ow- en College, is an MPLOY Youth Summer Ex- perience program intern at The New Tri-State Defender.)