Inaugural GEMS Conference Empowers Teen Girls

Andy Dahn
March 16, 2019 - 4:58 pm

Andy Dahn

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A first-of-its-kind conference on Chicago's South Side Saturday afternoon looked to provide teenage girls with a new outlet of expression and empowerment.

The Inaugural GEMS "Treasuring Myself, Treasuring My Sisters" conference at Dyett High School for the Arts featured workshops, makeovers and a resource fair for girls between the ages of 13 and 17.

"It's important to have a program like GEMS and a conference like this where girls can find a space where they can be honest and real about how they feel," said Jocelyn Jones, Executive Director of St. Sabina Church's ARK Youth Program. "They won't be judged by that. They can also be connected to resources who can actually help them sort through those emotions so they can grow and find their best self."

One of those girls was 16-year-old Rieonna Coleman.

(Andy Dahn/WBBM)

"All the girls that are in my group, just listening to them being comfortable with sharing their stories and everything they've been through, it's really empowering," she said. "I haven't experienced anything they've been through. That helps me understand how grateful I am about my life."

More than a hundred teens took part in the conference, which Jones hopes will become an annual event with even bigger crowds.