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One local camp teaches young girls skills to succeed

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A business boot-camp is happening right now in Indianapolis.

It’s a week long and it helps girls discover their gifts.

In the midst of bead building, and candy crunching, is “A Girl’s Gift.”

“I think I had my first business when I was 9 or 10 washing dishes in the neighborhood,” said Ericka Gibson, Co-Founder of A Girl’s Gift. “And it was how I put myself through school.”

Gibson, who is an attorney, and family law mediator wanted to create a business boot-camp, for young girls to know what they can achieve.

“I grew up very poor and my parents taught me that you have to work hard,” said Gibson. “If it means that you are helping the lady down the street or if you’re sweeping someone’s house, whatever you have to do, you have to do it to provide for your family.”

“We always say every girl has a gift but we believe many times girls aren’t able to show what their gifts are,” said DeShong Perry-Smitherman, the other founder of the program.

Perry-Smitherman says the program is designed to use creative techniques, and community partnerships. This week there was a program put on by Eli-Lilly on zombies. It was a fun way to get the girls to see STEM careers as fun. But “A Girl’s Gift” is about more than just building future business owners, it’s about building strong, independent young ladies.

“I have a peer-to-peer mentoring and self-development program for 7th and 8th graders,” said 15 year old Kejiana Taylor.

Taylor, gets the lesson.

“The name of my business is F.Y.I. – find your identity,” said Taylor. “And sometimes kids kind of get lost in the sauce, so my program, and my job, is to help them feel important, and know that they’re not alone.”

Hers is a business born out of her own difficult move into high school.

“That transition was, it was like pushing a cart through rubber and cement,” said Taylor. “I struggled, sometimes I’d cry myself asleep at night, I was just so scared.”

But today, Taylor, and the other girls in the program are becoming confident leaders through learning. They’re taught an 8 step business model, and by the end of the week, they’ve got a solid plan, and more.

“You have to meet the girls where they are,” said Perry-Smitherman.

“Just about every issue that a girl faces between 10 – 14 we address those issues through various workshops,” said Gibson.

The girls work on business plans in 8 parts, working 2 parts a day for a week. At the end of the week, they present or pitch those plans.

Four girls will walk away with between a hundred and a hundred fifty dollars to use to start up their business.

A Girl’s Gift program has been around for six years. For more information, click Here.