Akosua Dardaine-Edwards

Akosua Dardaine-Edwards founder of the Nina Programme.

After successfully launching the Nina Programme, a holistic mentorship programme aimed at working with at-risk girls between the ages of 15 -18, Akosua Dardaine-Edwards, Gender and Entrepreneurship Specialist, author and founder of Enabling Enterprise, says now it’s time to do more.

Dardaine-Edwards has teamed up with shot putter and four-time Olympian, Cleopatra Borel, founder of the Cleopatra Borel Foundation, to raise funds, raise awareness and to expand the Nina Programme. The pair will host Bodacious Girl Event on March 10th at 6.00.pm at Stollmeyer’s Castle, Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain.

Dardaine-Edwards is concerned about the welfare of the young women, who she has developed through the Nina Programme. Without funding, she is afraid that many of them will continue to fall through the cracks. Dardaine-Edwards wants the girls who participate in her programme to transition seamlessly and confidently into society.

“Nina creates young women who are resilient, confident, holistic individuals with a strong sense of self, willing to lead, love and serve. We focus on entrepreneurship as an empowerment tool to build skills, courage, persistence, risk taking and an entrepreneurial mind-set. We empower young women who were in the care system to emerge with leadership qualities. We are a self-sustainable programme which can provide training and employment for young ladies in transition out of the care system,” Dardaine-Edwards said.

Dardaine-Edwards said after many of these girls leave the care facilities, some thrive and some struggle to survive. “Some thrive, some do not. We want all to have a fair shot at thriving. At the moment there is a struggle to find decent housing, accommodation, employment and a positive safe environment.

“When they leave the home at 18 some of them have no job or nowhere to stay and no family to turn too. The home gives them a structure but when they are out they get lost. We’ve been keeping in touch with a few of them so that they wouldn’t just fall off the radar. Some of them we can’t. We need to have these girls in a transition environment for at least six months until they can get on their feet,” Dardaine-Edwards said.

“The biggest room anywhere is the room for improvement. I believe that apart from the excellent support already given by the homes, it still takes a village. Having quotas for hiring in specific programmes such as OJT, consistent mentorship, sexual health awareness, conflict resolution are all programmes which will go a long way,” Dardaine-Edwards said.

Dardaine-Edwards explained what it means to be “bodacious”. A bodacious girl is somebody who is bold, ambitious and courageous and fearless. She navigates her circumstances to come out on top with love, because you can’t do without love. We want to honour those girls, and we want to keep honouring them, so the event really celebrates them and raise funds at the same time,” Dardaine-Edwards said.

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Bodacious Girl Event is a cultural showcase with live entertainment and a silent auction. Dardaine-Edwards is excited about the event, she said it is important for others to support and give towards a worthy cause. “Nina Young Leaders Fund Raiser will be a wonderful evening of entertainment, it is a gala event. We hope that people would see the importance of events like these. Our aim is to have it annually and use the platform to do more than just fundraising but to award the girls who have done extremely well in the programme.

“Through the transition programme young women will continue to have a support system, mentorship, a place to call home in the transition to the “real world” and other relevant programmes,” Dardaine-Edwards said. Patrons will enjoy entertainment by guitarist Marva Newton, Freetown Collective,

Tickets for Bodacious Girl Event cost $300. For further information visit the Nina Programme on Facebook or visit AkosuaDardaineEdwards.com or call 735.7259.

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