LIGHTFEST Stars of the past offer HOPE for future

LIGHTFEST Stars of the past offer HOPE for future

Written by Sharon Cecil

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  ― Norman Vincent Peale


While reaching for the moon, we went beyond our expectation and reached the moon and the stars. The youth were stars that surrounded us. Each one Shined Bright for HOPE.  We are ALL Brilliantly made.  How bright can we shine for ourselves and others?

LIGHTFEST Stars of the past offer HOPE for future

In 1996, the WOW (Women Offering Wisdom) Program began thanks to Girl Scout Troop 1472 and many supporters.  The young women of Troop 1472 wanted young girls to understand “today’s women’s” issues.

The WOW program was instrumental in educating through special health and wellness programs, events and a resource center where they could meet and mentor their peers.  Having a special peer mentor had a significant effect on these young women’s lives.

During discussion meetings, we would see certain camaraderie with each group.  Each participant would bring a different perspective to the table.  Yet, each person seemed interested in what each one had to say.  Like a “Dialogue on Hope” sessions, before long, it becomes an intimate discussion.

Nikki and Brittany

Nikki (Left) and Brittany (Right)

At 11 years old, Brittany Zinsious-Kinder and Nikki Sherrard (Arielle Sherrard Corbett) joined WOW and continued with the WOW Program until they graduated from high school.

Nikki, with help from Brittany, was instrumental in the formation of the WOW Radio Talk Show (began in 1999) in order to share how young people are helping each other and themselves grow into healthy and productive adults. Together, Nikki and/or Brittany co-hosted the show every week. They wanted to share stories that they had heard which lead to publishing WOW Girlz.

As you can see from the following article “The Beautiful Innocence Within”, which was originally printed in the first issue of WOW Girlz, as an insert in Today’s Woman Magazine, September 2000, written by Brittany Zinsious-Kinder at the age of 15 and a member of Girl Scout Troop 1472, being a mentor for WOW made a tremendous impact in her life.

“The Beautiful Innocence Within”

“With everything that I am involved, I tend to meet a large variety of people.  Some…were mysterious but nice, while others were opinionated or exciting.

When I meet someone, I tend to make the assumption by guessing how his or her lifestyle is.  If I saw them wearing a big smile and expensive clothes, I would think they were happy.  Some of the people I meet, I later found out had terribly sad pasts and I was surprised to see them so happy.  I got to know these people and some of them had the most interesting personalities that I wanted to talk to them forever.  Then I learned all the information.  Some had parents in jail, or their parents were dead.  Some had run away and then were sent to group homes and others were poor or homeless.  Most had stories that were sad but not of their own making.  It was because of fate or their parent’s choices that they had been through what they had.

But no matter what, I promised myself I would push away their past and accept them for who they made themselves to be.  I promised myself to always try to recognize the sense of innocence from which may only be seen from within.”

lightfest_logoWOW was very instrumental in the formation of LIGHTFEST (held from 1996 to 2001), inspiring HOPES and Dreams in young and old alike. Through the years, the youth planned, promoted and presented this event along with Women In Touch Luncheon and Seminar all held at Churchill Downs. The opportunity for the WOW team to hold this event at Churchill Downs was an amazing experience for these young women.

As we celebrate the New Year, I hope that you will help to Light the Way for more youth around the world and join LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited.