Young women inspire others

Published 12:02 am Saturday, July 4, 2015

Tylon Hurts helps Teirra Hawkins, left, write her at the Natchez Children’s Home. (Mary Kathryn Carpenter / Natchez Democrat)

Tylon Hurts helps Teirra Hawkins, left, write her at the Natchez Children’s Home. (Mary Kathryn Carpenter / Natchez Democrat)

By Mary Kathryn Carpenter

NATCHEZ — For the past week, the Inspiring Young Ladies have been inspiring other young ladies in Natchez.

Several women, part of the Inspiring Young Ladies organization founded in 2013, traveled to Natchez from Irving, Texas, to put on a camp for nine kindergarten through fifth grade girls at the Natchez Children’s Home.

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Their mission was to mentor and teach the girls school basics as well as how to maintain a healthy self-esteem.

Natamasha Hawkins, founder of the IYL, came to Natchez, her hometown, along with four members of the IYL: Tylon and Jaylyn Hurts (her daughters), Mya Ross and Mykah Austin.

The girls are all 16, and gave up a week of their summer to aid in the education and growth of young, Mississippi girls.

“I feel like this is what my life was meant to be,” Hawkins said. “I want to help kids. It just brings joy to my heart to make kids happy.”

The girls, along with Hawkins, some volunteers and some of Hawkins’ Natchez family helped to put on the camp.

The campers were given math and reading exercises throughout the weeks as well as given activities to help themselves as well as everyone else understand whom they are.

Virginia Robertson, a teacher for about 25 years in the Natchez Adams School District —  who is also Hawkins’s aunt, worked on teaching the girls self esteem using literature as a tool in the process.

Robertson said she used stories like that of Chicken Little and Pandora’s box to teach the campers about bullying and believing in themselves.

This is the second year the IYL has put on this camp, but the first year it has come to Natchez, and Betty Collins, Hawkins’s mother who also volunteered to help with the camp, said she wishes it could go on longer.

“My greatest enjoyment is watching them learn,” Collins said. “I just wish this program could move to three or four weeks at a time because these kids really need it.”

The campers said they enjoyed getting to learn, exercise and getting stickers for a job well done.

Executive Director of the Natchez Children’s Home Nancy Hungerford said she was happy her organization was able to host the camp.

“It made very good sense to offer our facility to let the kids have this camp,” Hungerford said. “It’s been a great fit.”

While the IYL will be traveling back to Texas Sunday, plans are in place for their return in November for a Fun, Fabulous Fashion show at the Natchez Convention Center.

IYL, Natchez Children’s Home and CASA will participate in hosting the event and plan to involve local children.