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Power placed in their hands

A group in the North Greenwood community provides teenage girls tutoring in various topics to help them succeed.

By DEMORRIS A. LEE, Times Staff Writer
Published October 27, 2007


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CLEARWATER

The girls sat in a circle, some giggling, some leaning over and whispering to each other.

"What comes to mind when we say rap session?" asked Yataye Yah-tay Keaton, the motivational speaker from St. Petersburg leading the group. "And it's not rapping."

All 10 girls, 6 to 19, laughed.

"With this rap session, we are talking about allowing you to express what's here," Keaton said, placing her hand over her heart.

Every Tuesday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., a group of girls, mostly teens, meets at the North Greenwood Library to talk about what's on their minds.

The group is called Powerful Young Adults Inc. Its purpose is to give young girls from the North Greenwood area tools they need to succeed.

"In this area, there is not a lot to do that's creative and positive," said Katrina George, the group's founder "In this environment, you either learn how to survive it or you get caught up in the negative. Our goal is for them to have tools to survive it."

After an hour of discussion, often led by guest speakers, the girls receive tutoring or just hang around and chat about teen life.

"I feel like I can talk openly here," said Valencia Patrick, 17, and a Clearwater High School junior. "I can talk at home but here, with the other girls you know that they can really relate and understand. We are like a family now."

George, 42, started the group two years ago to fill a void in the community for one of her four daughters. Though her oldest daughter was an honor student, she was having trouble passing the math section of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Prices for a tutor ranged from $40 to $50 an hour. George and her husband hired the tutor, but she figured others also were having difficulty finding affordable help.

The group's guest speakers discuss black-on-black crime, sexually-transmitted diseases, health and career issues, and the importance of setting goals.

The organization tries to help members find summer jobs and they produce a newsletter, Royalty News. They also take cultural trips around the area.

"We visited the Dali Museum and when I got to school, we had to do a project and I did it on the museum," said Tiffany George, 14. "Actually going to the museum helped a lot."

Today, the group will host its second annual Clearwater Legends Ball. The organization will honor Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth Welch; Pinellas School Board member Mary L. Brown; Shahara Anderson, who works for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson; Gypsy Gallardo, editor of Power Broker Magazine; and Mamie Hodges, a former Clearwater commissioner.

The event starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Father Conmy Center in Dunedin.

George hopes to raise enough money to sponsor a summer youth empowerment camp.

"I was born and raised in North Greenwood," George said. "I'm not a transplant and I realize the issues. We need more employment and want to work to empower the kids so they can have job skills."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes.com or 445-4174

If you go

The Clearwater Legends Ball

When: 5:30 p.m. today at Father Conmy Center, Dunedin

Tickets: $60

Featuring: The Onque' Players

More information: (727) 441-9430

[Last modified October 26, 2007, 21:37:30]


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