In March, Carmellena Blockton set out to provide an outlet for young girls in St. Louis to develop social skills, learn physical fitness and to increase self-confidence. Straying away from the traditional mentoring program, she chose a different approach and created a hip-hop inspired majorette dance team entitled “Diva Sweat Girls.”
Diva Sweat originally began in 2013 as an adult dance class. As time went on, Blockton noticed a need in her community and decided to take action.
“Diva Sweat was the platform for adults, but then it branched off for girls,” Blockton said. “As adult women, we have things to do. So, I started looking at the community and [noticed] that we need to get something going for the girls. I wasn’t working at the time so I said I’m going to take my chances and start [Diva Sweat] with the girls. And, it was a great success.”
Diva Sweat Girls has 25 dancers ages 7 to 17, the majority of which are from St. Louis City. Blockton hopes to expand the program to include girls from the entire region. When Tammy White saw a Diva Sweat Girls advertisement at a south city grocery store, she instantly knew she wanted her daughter, Kila Ferguson, 11, to participate in the program.
“I feel like kids in general need positive reinforcement,” White explained. “When I saw what [Diva Sweat] stood for and that it was all about girl empowerment, self-esteem, and being healthy, I wanted to sign my daughter up.”
For White, placing her daughter in Diva Sweat Girls turned out to be just what she expected. Kila had gone from a timid 11-year-old when she first entered the program, to a self-confident dancer.
“With Ms. Carmellena as our teacher, she makes things look hard, but as she goes to teach us, it’s really easy,” Kila said. “It’s time consuming, but it’s all worth it.”
“Her self-confidence went through the roof, and I keep trying to encourage her,” White said of Kila. “I think kids in general are really self-conscious about their body image, and doing something like this makes you feel invincible when it comes to your body and what you can do with your body after you practice so long.”
Diva Sweat Girls will have its third performance on Saturday at the Ferguson July 4th Parade. Blockton will also host a fundraising event on July 12 to raise funds for the “Show up and Show out Dance Competition.” The competition will take place on August 8 in Cincinnati.
Ferguson July 4th Parade
- When: Saturday, July 4, 2015; 10:00 a.m. start
- Where: Begins at Paul Ave. and S. Florissant Road
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Diva Sweat Girls Family & Friends Skate Night Fundraiser
- When: Sunday, July 12, 2015; 3:30 - 6:30 p.m.
- Where: St. Louis Skatium, 120 E Catalan St., St. Louis, MO 63113
- More information