If you walked the gymnasium of James and Rosemary Phalen Leadership Academy on July 10, you would have seen the Girls Who Brunch Tour founder Ni’cola Mitchell encouraging young girls to get up and dance to “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion and “We Get Turnt Up” by Lil Twin — clean versions of course — for a chance to win cool prizes and to build community.
While participants were hesitant at first, they slowly began to open up as they showed off their dance moves to the latest pop culture dance routines.
After the girls warmed up, they separated into groups based on age to go to workshops centered around self-love, emotional intelligence and how to be a future leader.
“It’s therapy for me,” Mitchell said. “I come in and see the girls and most of the time they are standoffish and don’t know what to expect. We make them dance and make them have fun. It gets them out of their comfort zone, and we teach them at the same time.”
The Girls Who Brunch Tour began in 2015 and is a nonprofit organization that helps to inspire and empower girls between the ages of 9 and 17 who are often exposed to bullying, human trafficking, as well as have self-esteem issues and underestimate their self-worth.
Mitchell got her inspiration for the Girls Who Brunch Tour after speaking at an event in the Gullah Islands of South Carolina, when she met two girls who had never seen a Black author in a bookstore.
“These girls never knew pizza came in a box,” Mitchell said.
She was able to meet a school superintendent and a manager of a community center that let her use their space which led to the creation of Girls Who Brunch.
“I used the format of my book launches,” she said. “The panels, the speakers, the performances and just added workshops.”
“Our young ladies. They have lost themselves,” said Lavon Bradley, host of the “Girl B.Y.E” workshop. “This event helps them find themselves.”
Chloe Pruitt was shy when she first arrived at the Girls Who Brunch Tour. Toward the end of the day, she couldn’t hold in her excitement when telling everyone what she learned after being a part of the “Learning to Love You” workshop taught by Renita Hills.
“I learned to love my facial features,” Pruitt, 11, said.
Statements like “That’s amazing” and “I love that so much” echoed throughout the crowd as they heard her response.
Pruitt’s aunt, Tashiana Wilson, brought her to the event because she felt this experience would help her niece come into her own and find who she is, as well as give her a chance to be around other girls who may also think like her and share similar experiences.
As the girls were eating their lunch, Mitchell went around and asked what they gained from the workshops.
“We have learned to love ourselves and love who we are,” said one girl in the “Learning to Love You” workshop.
“It makes me happy to be around females and not have boys around. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone,” said another girl.
Lexi Johnson, panelist and co-founder of Lex-Z TV, said this event is important because it brings girls together.
“Anytime we can have our women pour into our young women it’s a beautiful thing,” Johnson said.
The Girls Who Brunch Tour goes to 21 cities nationwide and offers both in-person and virtual workshops throughout the year.
Contact staff writer Terrence Lambert at 317-924-5243. Follow him on Twitter @TerrenceL.