Cleveland's 'Growing Leaders' program grooming young women for success: Romona's Kids

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Some young women are well on their way to college and successful careers, thanks to a local women's volunteer service group and its programs to ensure the cultural and economic survival of African Americans in the community.

Students from the Growing Leaders program, sponsored by The Links Western Reserve Chapter, are learning the soft skills they'll need all their lives, like college and job interviewing.

"What not to do and what to do, and things you can work on," said Maleha Bethley. "Basically when you're asked a question, have an answer on board for what you're going to say."

"We're taught to always ask a question at the end of the interview, to calm ourselves down, don't make ourselves look nervous and just think about what we're going to say,"  said Savannah Lucky.

"One of the biggest things I have ever learned there is always be confident about yourself," said Asia Wilson. "You can always be anything you want so don't let anyone tell you that you can't be something, because you can be anything and it is possible."

"It taught me how to think on my feet and be prepared to answer questions," said Indigo Brown Barrett. "I'm more reserved than most people, but I've learned through this program to speak up more and be more open."

"What I'm learning in the program is about colleges," said  Azaya Winfield. "College is new to me because I'm a high school freshman, so I'm learning about credits and money and different things you have to do to get into colleges."

"It's really a comprehensive program, we start with strength finders so the girls can identify their strengths, we also talk to them about financial education, we gave them an etiquette class, we talk about mindfulness and not being stressed and we've had a session on HIV and AIDS in our health component," said Lynnette Jackson, Past President of The Links Western Reserve Chapter. "We promote and celebrate their success with  a greatness session and culminate with a graduation ceremony at the end of the year."

The Western Reserve Chapter has other programs to serve the community, like a baby shower.

"We provide services, health screenings, information on wellness of babies, new and gently used clothing so it's a full day and it's for the entire family," said Sheree Anderson, Chapter President.

The girls have big plans for their future; Asia hopes to go to the U.S. Naval Academy, Maleha wants to be an anesthesiologist, Savannah hopes to be a physical therapist,  Indigo wants to be a nurse practitioner and Azaya is set on becoming a doctor.

"What I love about the program is they help us stay together," said Winfield.

The Links is holding its annual fundraiser, The Mardi Gras Benefit Gala, this Saturday, March 3 at the Global Center for Health Innovation in Downtown Cleveland.

To donate, text Gala to 216-930-1914.

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