FCA’s Girls Empowerment & Leadership Summit, a four-month program designed to create a supportive environment for young women attending middle school and high school, recently completed its inaugural session with a red carpet “Night of Elegance and Achievement,” for graduates of the summit.
Administered by FCA’s award-winning Hempstead Prevention Coalition and made possible with funding from Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Nassau County Office of Youth Services, the three main goals of the summit were to include girls in an environment that fosters strong relationship building, inform the girls on how to effectively identify and navigate opportunities and barriers, and to invest in these girls by creating the platforms for them to mentor, influence, and advocate for themselves and their peers.
“The summit serves to open a world of opportunity and smart choices for girls by creating a supportive, inclusive, and safe space for girls from various areas of Nassau County to learn, grow, and be empowered,” said Thurston O’Neal, director, FCA Hempstead Prevention Coalition. “Our graduation event was joyous, with girls and their families enjoying an evening acknowledging and supporting their great potential to live a full, productive life.”
The virtual summit featured four tiers: Public Speaking & Leadership; Violence & Substance Prevention; Self-Advocacy; and Valuing Education.
Each tier was presented by community experts including the honorable Brianna A. Vaughan, Village Justice for the Village of Hempstead; Motivational Speaker and Life & Success Coach Jessica Toussaint; and community resident and activist Victoria Roberts, who shared her lived experience on how she turned her life around to become a high achiever with a degree in social work and as the recipient of multiple awards. The discussions were diverse and lively.
In part because of programs like the GEL Summit, The Hempstead Prevention Coalition was recently selected as a 2022 “What’s Great in Our State” award winner, recognizing and honoring the individuals and programs for outstanding work to bring positive mental health outcomes for children, youth, young adults, communities, and families.
FCA President and CEO Jeffrey L. Reynolds congratulated Thurston O’Neal and the entire Hempstead Prevention Coalition. “We at FCA are extremely proud of Thurston, thankful for his work and appreciative of this recognition. Acknowledging the great need for mental health awareness and support, FCA’s Hempstead Prevention Coalition makes a difference creating a safe space for our community youth to engage and be seen. Developing young leaders in the Village of Hempstead will better position our community for success for generations to come. Thurston’s work has been thoughtful, engaging and inclusive, always with an eye towards creating systems of change and a renewed sense of community.”