The "Talk" before the "Walk"

09/20/2012 by

“As Oprah Winfrey once stated, I am ‘turning my wounds into wisdom,’ because I realized years ago that sometimes you have to go through things to make them right when they are wrong and easy when they are hard!”

A lesson learned is a lesson worth teaching again. Well, that’s how Akissi Brooks-Hill views it. As a mentor for various programs throughout the city, Akissi, 26, is persistent to seeing today’s next generation of young ladies grow into more than women. Through her program, Girl Talk, growing ladies are brought together to gain resources and ways to deal with everyday issues that stem from peer pressure. The mission of the GIRL TALK G.R.O.W program is to encourage young ladies to realize their worth, purpose, develop leadership skills, and recognize the importance of community service. The program also provides young ladies with the opportunity to learn, acquire leadership roles, which promote self-confidence, respect, responsibility, and reaching out to others. 

“While traveling down the road to success, I have encountered obstacles and learned from mistakes that I would like to prevent other young ladies from experiencing,” said Akissi. “I noticed that in small cities such as my hometown, the number for teen pregnancies increased a great deal compared to when I was in high school, and this was my starting point for reaching out to teen girls.”

The first annual GIRL TALK Teen Conference was held in 2009 in Forrest City, Arkansas. The conference focused on the importance of education, choosing abstinence and the prevention of teenage pregnancy. Many young girls gained the opportunity to be educated, empowered and encouraged as Akissi and her family took the time to reach out to them. With four years in the making, GIRL TALK has been the pivotal source to assist young women in challenging life circumstances through conferences, mentorships, scholarships and community involvement. To add to its gracious services, GIRL TALK began another program, G.R.O.W., which stands for Getting Ready for Our World. 

“While working on the conference, I decided that I wanted to develop a community service, leadership, mentoring, and scholarship program for young ladies in Pulaski County with hopes of offering positive involvement and guiding the young ladies throughout the year. I felt the conference theme “G.R.O.W (Getting Ready for Our World) was too powerful to use only once and decided to use it for the name of the program. I started out that following fall, guiding and sharing my experiences with the young ladies in hopes that they would stay focused, positive and determined to succeed.”

G.R.O.W has hosted forums for teen girls in Pulaski County as well as donated food and clothing for Thanksgiving and volunteer for charitable events. The first program year, which launched September 2011, was successful with seven girls and will begin its second year of service this fall.

“The children of today are our future leaders of tomorrow! If we do not reach out to them now, we are turning our backs on our communities, country, and our world’s next generation,” said Akissi.

Besides keeping herself busy with GIRL TALKE, Akissi also works as a “Volunteer Probation Officer” with the Pulaski County Circuit Court and a “Court Appointed Special Advocate” with the Pulaski County CASA. With hopes for the future, Akissi plans to open a teen center and expand the programs beyond the state, traveling, and conducting additional co-conference collaborations and partnerships with other organizations in effort to reach out to young ladies outside of Arkansas. 
She also looks forward to reaching young men soon, a platform her husband will lead and begin to positively affect boys who lack a positive father or male figure in their life.

“I believe that in order to succeed as a mentor, one must possess good intentions, character, and the desire to develop positive character among others. I do not think of myself as a CEO, Entrepreneur, or BOSS! I am simply “Ambitious Akissi” doing what I love! Everything I have been through was only preparing me to work with young ladies and I cannot think of anything else that I am destined to do other than pleasing God and loving my family!”