Rialto Girls Win Big
By Dianne Anderson
Jasmine Foster, 14, is out of her shell.
The bubbly, enthusiastic high school freshman is now all grown up, having emerged from painfully shy middle school years when she didn’t want to talk to anyone, and had no friends.
She attributes the Diva and Fabulous program to her growth during the hard times. Today, she goes back to share her experience with the program’s younger girls about being a good student, and self-confident young woman.
“Shine Bright Like a Diamond is an awesome program for girls my age, and younger,” said Foster, a Rialto student. “Miss Kim helped me make friends, and come who I am now – kind, funny and I like to talk to people.”
Foster said the program introduced her to important conversations that she may not have had otherwise. Today, she is working on her student goals, and someday hopes to be a pediatrician.
“Ms. Kim gave us different types of books to read, different activities in class. She taught us etiquette skills, and then we had to go out and use them,” said Foster, who also has a 12-year-old sister in the program.
Kim Woods, founder and director of the nonprofit I’m a Diva and Fabulous Youth Foundation, said this year they are also excited to have the City of Rialto and the Rialto Community Center as a partner for their upcoming pageant.
They are now calling for participants.
From now until September 15, 2019, they will get the girls ready for a plethora of events, festivities, a gala for their Miss Teen Rialto Scholarship Pageant. Girls 13 to 17 are encouraged to apply. They must be a Rialto resident, attend school in Rialto, and have a GPA of 2.5 to apply.
While all their young ladies are beautiful, it’s not a beauty contest. The pageant is a series of learning opportunities on self-branding, marketing, public speaking about concerns that the girls are passionate about, such as teen bullying.
Woods, who works at Kucera High School, has hosted the program there several years. She and the program’s co-founder, Jazlynn Wilson, have motivated hundreds of teen girls in education, etiquette and personal growth.
Some girls who had never openly talked to their parents learn the best way to communicate.
“We have girls that came into our program that didn’t say a word, shy and timid. They come out, and the parents are like — I can not get them to shut up,” she laughs.
Over the years, Woods has received awards from the Rialto Council of PTA’s and PTSA. She is CASA certificated, (Court Appointed Special Advocate), certificated for Surrogate Parent Training, and holds certificates in Citizen Academy, CRP and CERT, Certified Emergency Response Team.
Like Jasmine, some girls are looking for a space to make friends, others want a safe place to turn for help, or what’s available for personal products.
“We journal,” she said. “We have a Diva library from knowing your body to self-esteem. I have students that have written their own books in the library.”
Woods said the middle school program sets the foundation to get girls ready to tackle situations they will face when they get to high school. There are 25 girls in the after-school program that meets Thursdays from 3:00-5:30 p.m.
“The girls get the tools, they learn life skills about themselves, how to handle problems, and builds self-worth,” she said. “We talk about everything under the sun, we talk about bullying, divorce.”
The program is free, but she never turns down donations. Her adjacent program, Empowering Girls Academy, is open for all girls that reside in the Inland Empire.
Leading up to the pageant, the girls will learn to interview, develop a public persona. They will walk and talk and look the part with hair and makeup. They will practice the power of positive thinking, something they will be called to use as the title holder as they go out into the community to represent themselves for a whole year.
Training will be held at various venues, where the girls will wear the crown, speak at community banquets, volunteer and learn as they shadow on the job with local businesses.
The holder of the crown wins a $3,000 educational cash scholarship. The first second and third runners-up also win cash prizes, and all participants take home a special gift.
“They have to sell ads for the book, they have to sell tickets. They are representing themselves at all time, they have to act like a lady,” she said.
“It’s going to be really nice, and it’s going to be great exposure for them.”
For more information on this and other open free programs, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.missteenrialto.org