ORLANDO – The young faces light up with excitement as Ardre A. Orie introduces them to books, pictures, and other things that share one link: their color.
That color is pink. And pink, as Orie is quick to note, is the color of empowerment.
“Pink is positive,” she said as she finished reading the book “Pinkalicious” to the young girls gathered on the third floor of the Orlando Public Library. “One of the things we teach our young ladies is that pink is positive, and you need a positive attitude.”
That attitude, Orie noted, is the first step toward teaching etiquette, poise and social graces to the young faces that turned out to spend their Saturday afternoon with her.
Then again, Orie is the founder of an academy that seeks to empower young girls to discover, as Orie noted, that “a little charisma can go a long way.”
“Here in Orlando, this is our official kickoff for the Academy,” said Carlarta P. Baskin, regional director of the Pink Wish Foundation Inc., whose motto is “Empowering Youth to Dream, Believe and Achieve.”
“This is our first launch of the actual academy,” Baskin said. “This is the first event, and then we have a second event planned for next month, a Zumba fitness class. It’s going to be fun.”
Orie, who holds degrees in special education and educational leadership, has spent the past eight year working in Florida’s public schools as a teacher and administrator. She also worked in daycare centers for three years teaching etiquette – a task that helped serve as the inspiration for the Pink Wish Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering girls and women through etioquette instruction, academic excellence community outreach, and economic empowerment.
“Ardre is basically in education and has been for several years,” Baskin said. “When she began teaching etiquette to her students, she realized that this was something that needed to be taught.”
Saturday’s event was the Pink Wish Divas and Dolls Party, an opportunity for woman and girls of all ages to get together and learn poise and grace – not to mention strategies for maintaining high self-esteem.
“We’re very excited to have you here and to be here in Orlando,” Baskin told the young girls and mothers who crowded into the library’s meeting room. “We do have a wonderful time for you planned here.”
This program, Orie noted, is designed to serve young girls in grades Kindergarten through 12. It aims to enrich the lives of young girls who are living without a father in their lives. The Pink Wish Academy exposes them to a variety of techniques to communicate and interact in all professional and social settings.
“One of the reasons we established the Pink Wish Foundation is we realized there is a need for etiquette and instruction,” Orie said. “We want you women to be empowered. We believe if we give the tools to young ladies, then they are on a path to success. What a great thing it would be if we could share etiquette on a continuing basis.”
Girls brought up by a divorced or never married mother score lower than children raised in two parent households, the foundation notes, citing studies by Tom Luster and Hariette Pipe McAdoo, authors of “Factors Related to the Achievement and Adjustment of Young African American Children” (1994).
“One of our goals,” Orie said, “is to economically empower anyone who comes into contact with Pink Wish. We try to educate the mother as well. Most importantly, we have fun. What young lady doesn’t want a good time?”
Orie had a box full of colorful pictures, and asked the mothers and daughters alike to pick out one that best matched their personality. Mom Sherri Daniels chose a chocolate brown picture because “I love chocolate, because no matter how bad your day goes, chocolate will make it right.”
Mom Antoinette Brown chose a pink colored picture.
“I love pink and I would truly love to have a pink personality,” she said.
Anybody can have a pink personality, Orie said, and it starts with learning to express yourself.
“It makes it easier to communicate with people when you know a little bit about them,” she said.
To learn more about the Pink Wish Foundation, call 407-373-3265.
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