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WHITE PLAINS, NY – A gem is defined as a semiprecious stone, especially when cut and polished or engraved. 

Sixty-eight human versions of a gem took part in the YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester annual end of year celebration for Girls Empowered through Meaningful Support (GEMS), on Thursday, June 8.

GEMS, a free program established over 40 years ago, strives to assist African-American and Latina girls in the White Plains community in becoming self-reliant, competent, caring and healthy. It does so by providing relevant engaging activities in the areas of cultural awareness, health and wellness, college and careers, and self-esteem. 

The Gems Program has three components for three distinct age groups: Little Sisters and Big Sisters (grades 1-5); Faize (grades 6-8); and Strivers (9-12 grades).

This year’s ceremony included a video presentation that illustrated all of the activities the girls participated in during the school year.  Some of the activities were coding of aerial drones and a create an app competition. 

A representative from each grade level had the opportunity to talk about some of these activities.  There was even a demonstration of a drone to the delight of the audience of family members and friends.

Co-Directors, Candida Poinsette and Rhonda Brooks looked on with all the pride a parent might have. 

“Each year brings new experiences to prepare them for the future,” said Ms. Poinsette, “It’s our great pleasure to have helped pave the way of opportunity and growth for these young ladies.”

YWCA CEO, Maria Imperial, was so impressed with how the young ladies presented themselves.  In her remarks, she said,

“I am so proud of our Girls Empowered through Meaningful Support girls – they are all women warriors.  The YWCA since our earliest days has been guided by a commitment to young women.  Our mission and vision for social change brings together younger and older women to share ideas, deliberate, advocate and ultimately to celebrate and support each other.  Strong alone, fearless together.”

A highlight of the evening was Keynote Speaker, Brittany “Bre” Scullark, a fashion model and actress.  She urged the girls to stay strong and to be true to themselves.

GEMS receives financial support from the New York State Office of Children & Family Services through the Westchester County Youth Bureau, the St. Faith’s House Foundation, the Jandon Foundation, individual and other corporate supporters.

Registration is limited to girls attending White Plains Public Schools. Enrollment is for the academic year and past participants are given priority registration status. For more information visit www.ywcawpcw.org.


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