As a child growing up, Nakia Campbell was exposed to many extraordinary experiences that most young women do not get the chance to witness. Because of this, Campbell knew she wanted to give back. She yearned to provide other young women those same opportunities she had that significantly enriched her life.
“Some parents in the area are working two jobs and do not have that extra time or extra money to take their children to museums or give them the same experiences I had,” Campbell explained. “I want to help broaden their horizons and open their minds so they know there is something beyond these streets.”
Campbell said she first thought of this concept in 2000 and worked diligently for three years to compile all the factors necessary to start the organization. Campbell’s quest to organize and set up this program was far from easy. Unfortunately, Campbell was faced with tough financial troubles and she was forced to put her project on hold. Campbell fought through the difficult times and was finally able to make the organization a reality in 2010.
“I picked it all back up and never let it go since April 2010,” Campbell added.
Campbell soon founded the Pink Ladies Youth Mentorship Program, a program established at the Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center located at 2551 N. 22nd St. Campbell said this organization is meant to supply underprivileged young women with the tools to excel academically, physically and socially.
Campbell serves as the sole staff member of this program and manages the daily operations of the organization, but she receives assistance from members of the community.
“I mostly invent, coordinate, produce and execute each and every idea and event from conception to completion, but I do receive help from the pink ladies scholars, mentors and social change agents,” Campbell said.
Campbell said the Pink Ladies Youth Mentorship Program has several sponsors that help build unique courses and support field trips that are not only educational but fun for the girls.
One company that works closely with the pink ladies, Confidence by Design, sponsors an exceptional course where the girls are instructed on proper dining etiquette. The young women are not only treated to this social course but to a delicious dinner sponsored by Ruby Tuesdays.
Pink lady Kimberly Thorne said going on these trips is what she enjoys most.
“I like how they sponsor trips for us and how we go to places like museums and restaurants,” Thorne said.
Campbell said the organization likes to offer programs that endorse the arts because she adores many art forms including dance, musical theater and opera. The girls of the Pink Ladies Youth Mentorship Program are invited every year to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where the young women participate in an art workshop. Campbell said the girls get the opportunity to create their own handmade passports from beautiful fabrics and art supplies.
“Once they finish the passports, they use them to take a tour around the world within the museum,” Campbell explained. “They always hook up this trip for us and my girls love it.”
Alex Ford, proud father of pink lady Jada Gordon, said this organization provides services not seen anywhere else in the neighborhood.
Ford said, “They are doing things that I don’t see anybody else doing. The Pink Ladies are focused on the whole process on how a female is supposed to be and that I like because that helps her become the women she needs to be when she gets older.”
Nevertheless, gaining the funding needed for these programs has been a challenge. Campbell said she just applied for the Philadelphia Activities Fund Grant to produce more financial support for the organization. Campbell said a full-time position should be established to deal with the financial aspects of running the organization.
“I really need someone who is an expert in grant writing, budget planning and business plan writing to help with the final details of these things for me as soon as possible,” Campbell said.
One prominent facilitator, the Central North EPIC Stakeholders Commission, provides services for the organization. Recently, educator Ollie Nasar provided a course on life skills that lasted four weeks. The Pink Ladies Youth Mentorship Program cut a deal with Nasar to continue this course throughout the summer into fall 2011. Due to the School District of Philadelphia’s budget crisis, Nasar was no longer able to provide her services since she is a teacher and an employee of the school district.
“I am now back to the drawing board, but the pink ladies will continue to rise and grow,” Campbell said. “When the budget is going through rough times, we have to suffer for it.”
Campbell said no matter what happens, she will continue to provide educational programs necessary to transform these girls into successful young women. For more information on The Pink Ladies Youth Mentorship Program visit the organization’s website.