Local Entrepreneurs, Pastors Encourage Next Generation Through Youth Empowerment Seminar
by James Coulter
If God gives you a talent, you have to share it with the world. That’s what Asha Davis firmly believes, and it’s that belief that allowed her to share her talent of dancing through her dance school, Davis Dance Academy.
Ever since she was 7 years old, she wanted to be a lawyer. Her life’s dream inevitably became re-routed at age 18 when she learned that she was becoming a mother. Having to provide for her new son, she went to nursing school and became a nurse.
Though she was making good money, enough to support her new family, she discovered that her life was missing something: a dream. As she had a talent for dancing since a young age, she decided to set a new life’s dream by opening up a dance studio, she said.
She continued to work in nursing for eight years in order to raise enough money to continue supporting her family and to follow her dream. After all, following a dream takes more than wishing, she said.
“I had to make sure that I built a foundation, I had to make sure that I started in an area that would allow me to follow my dreams,” Davis said. “Because so many people…don’t want to put in the work. You have to be able to put in the work.”
She started working at Ultimate Dance Studio for free to learn the ins and outs of running a dance school and studio. She took what she had learned and rented a small room to open her academy.
What started within a small room soon grew into a larger room, and now she has a dream to open a dance art studio in Auburndale. She has come so far in achieving her dream, and she will continue to strive to make it a reality, she said.
Following the verse in the Bible that states “write the vision and make it plain”, her advice to others is to make their own dreams plain and work hard every day to get themselves a little bit closer to their ultimate goal.
“How do you become successful? Start doing something towards your dreams tomorrow or tonight or now,” she said. “Start doing something right away. Doing a little bit every day, so when you turn around, you are the best in your field because you started doing it from this stage.”
Davis was one of four local community figures, ranging from entrepreneurs to pastors, who offered such words of wisdom to inspire the next generation through the Youth Empowerment Seminar “Keys To Success” on Saturday.
Hosted by It’s A Girls World Foundation, Inc. (IAGWF), a local non-profit organization, the annual seminar drew in nearly three dozen children to the Rotary Park Clubhouse in Winter Haven to participate within self-help exercises and listen to motivational speeches.
Pastor Trevor Allen, Senior Pastor of Imprint Ministries, outlined four important steps towards achieving one’s goals: pray, plan, people, and perspire. To achieve your dream, you must pray to God and listen for his plan for you, plan out your strategy towards achieving that plan, surround yourself with positive people to help you with that plan, and finally work to make it all a reality, he said.
The first step, obviously, is to pray to God. That involves more than simply talking to him. You also have to be willing to listen and obey him, Pastor Allen said.
“Most of us know how to talk to God, but many of us don’t know how to listen to God,” he said. “You have to realize that it is more about listening to God about what he wants you to do than you telling him what you want to do.”
Of course, praying is not enough. Prayer requires action. So you need to plan out your strategy, surround yourself with people willing to help and encourage you, and work hard to achieve what God wants you to, he said.
“In order to succeed in life, you have to sweat,” he said. “Those sweat and those tears will accomplish something great. It takes hard work to get where you want to be.”
The children attending that day also participated in several activities, from teamwork exercises to creating “vision” boards. One exercise had them coloring in their own “keys to success” and highlighting their own plans to achieve their dreams.
Sheenna McKenzie, IAGWF CEO, hosts these youth empowerment seminars each year to help encourage the next generation to follow their own dreams and achieve their own success.
Her non-profit organization offers such motivation through these events, as well as through scholarships to graduating high school seniors and volunteer work with Boys and Girls Club of Winter Haven and Florida Baptist Children’s Homes.
“I am extremely passionate about being able to make a difference in the lives of our youth by being a leader, mentor, and role model,” she said. “The vision that I have for this organization is to continue to empower youth by developing events that empower the youth to become successful leaders in the community.”
For more information about IAGWF, visit their website at: https://iagwf.org/