St. Petersburg empowering young women with girls conference

Stepping in to make lives better for young girls in St. Petersburg. Officials say they are trying to focus on their needs to they turn into successful adults.

School classrooms may be empty during the summer but inside the cafeteria these girls are moving.

"I love to dance, I love to do gymnastics," said Joteisha Thomas, a student at Johns Hopkins Middle School.

That hobby is shared by many of these young women.

"We want to be able to connect directly to the needs of the young people and we do that by listening to them," said Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, the Director of Urban Affairs in St. Petersburg.

And what they heard?

"If we go outside, we have to play basketball, football and we have to play with the boys but now that we're here with other girls were able to interact with girls and learn what they like to do," said Thomas.

Gaskin-Capehart is delivering, teaching health and wellness with choreographed dancing, yoga and meditation, a walk down the runway to show them how to dress for job interviews. She is even showing the girls how to handle self branding on social media.

Another thing being taught: opportunities available for the teens in St. Pete.

"Definitely without that you would find that there would be a sense of hopelessness and we don't ever want to have to deal with that," said Gaskin-Capehart.

It's the beginning of the Sisters Keepers Initiative, part of the bigger My Brothers and Sisters Keeper, a $1 million promise by the city to empower young women and men to succeed. The group hopes to hold conferences four times a year.

The Pinellas Urban League is meeting at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 26 to discuss the stigma surrounding mental illness in our community and how to promote health and wellness. The event is open to the public.