Helping young girls become strong and gracious women
The daughter raised by a loving single mother, who has now raised three children of her own and helps care for some of her grandchildren, overflows with so much compassion for young women today that she has created an extension of herself to help young women grow to be leaders in their families and the communities they reside in.
“Building Beauty Inside and Out is a leadership academy specifically designed to help uplift, inspire and build confidence in school aged girls,” said Daphne Monique Thomas, a natural inspirational speaker. “The underlying goal of the program is to encourage its students to establish and accomplish set goals, and to understand that with faith, a positive outlook and self-belief all things are possible. I just love to help them feel the power of their voices, I want them to know there is a behavior on social media and to raise their awareness of responsibility.”
Thomas, a published author, illustrator, storyteller, photographer and licensed cosmetologist who practiced in the field for more than 30 years, is the founder of Building Beauty Inside and Out Leadership Academy. Participants of the program gain a plethora of knowledge in social graces, modeling instruction to learn skill with runway walks, turns, stances, poses and more — things Thomas wanted to learn as a youth but without the resources for classes, depended on other ways to grow in grace. The goal is not pageant modeling, though if one of the teens chose to do so, she would find help and support from sisters in the program, it is for life lessons, practical building blocks.
“When the girls are practicing runway, it is not just for modeling. I say to them, it is taking one step at a time. Life is that way. You have a goal and it takes focus and determination to reach that goal,” Thomas said. “When they take a pose, it’s like taking a moment, to stand, before taking the next step in life.”
This fall’s nine-week semester is the largest Thomas has had, previous groups ranged from four to six students, ages 13 to 17. The class includes Na’Bria Charles, Alexcia Franklin, Diamond Green, Taylor Hendriks, Jo’wanna James, Alyncia Lindon, Chloe Lofton, Hailley Lofton, Kenya Mixon, Cassy Owens, A’Moni Simon and Jada Walker. There is no fee for the girls to participate. Thomas provides students with supplies for each phase of development including this week’s catered meal by Ora’s Kitchen & Catering, and with other suppliers who have in the past, and again this year, are joining the cause with in-kind donations of things needed weekly for development.
With the help of R&R Glass Work of New Iberia, Thomas has given each girl a specially designed mirror, so they can look at the outside reflecting on the values being formed on the inside. They are required to do three random acts of kindness a day and journal what they accomplished. Volunteering is also part of the program. Proper ways to greet others is part of the training. The young women will act as hostesses at Saturday’s unveiling of a historical marker at Bouligny Plaza. The Emma Wakefield Paillet MD dedication is at 10 a.m.
“This program gives you the ability to practice leadership skills, modeling skills, etiquette for eating, posture, it gives you great abilities to do things in society,” said Na’Bria Charles.
The journey for Thomas hasn’t been far from her hometown of Franklin, but with a countenance that is contagious, at only three weeks into the new session, the students are embracing the lessons to be learned from Thomas.
“Being a part of the BBIAO allows us girls to have a sisterhood and to unite and make harmony as one,” said Alyncia Lindon. “Also, I would like to thank Mrs. Daphne because she is teaching us leadership skills, how to give back to our community and also to implant in us it’s okay to be who you are, to be comfortable in your own skin. I feel like as we continue to grow this program, its empowering the girls that are part of the program, but also speaking out to other girls and people in general in the community.”
Alexcia Franklin said she felt Thomas was helping them build self-confidence. The heart of the program is a bright reflection of the woman who shines for the girls not just telling them how to treat others, as well as themselves, but models it for them in real life. Students will learn to conduct themselves in front of as well as behind the camera with an upcoming field trip to the
Acadiana Open Channel studio.
They also will learn hair and skincare, as well as health, wellness, etiquette and talent development. Instruction is interactive as well as informative. A great emphasis is placed upon exploring the arts through various mediums. Thomas partners with, educators, artisans, civic and social leaders who are willing to volunteer and invest in the development of BBIAO students.
“Upon completion of the workshop our participants have reported a restored sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. BBIAO offers interactive workshops that are invaluable, and gives students a foundation that they can continue to build upon thus becoming positive influences to those around them,” Thomas said. “I’m just excited. These young ladies seem really forward thinking. They’re thinking about what they want to do with their futures and they understand they’ve got to be ready. This is like a finishing school, they have to prepared. They’re thinking about college and nervous about some situations, and they don’t want to be. So this is a way for them to prepare for that. They love the idea of giving back to the community. All of this is just getting experience, a prerequisite for real life.”
To learn more and to observe examples of instruction and activities, visit the Building Beauty Inside and Out Facebook page or call 280-8629.