CLEVELAND — The coronavirus pandemic has put many people’s plans on pause.
But Dameyonna Willis said cutting off her connection with the young girls who are apart of her Queen IAM organization was not an option.
“I was like I gotta come up with something. I gotta come up with something that. I know we're all on Zoom and then I’ll be doing something virtually but I got to make it fun. I got to make it engaging,” Willis said.
In 2016, Willis started Queen IAM to promote self-love, self-respect and self-understanding among young girls in Northeast Ohio.
With the help of community partners, every two weeks she hosted the girls at various places to offer activities centered around health and wellness, service learning, financial literacy, or college, and career readiness.
She’s pivoted the in-person experiences to virtual experiences with Queen in Quarantine.
And because of her diligent planning, the girls haven’t missed a beat.
“We are going to be doing some more creative different things, just helping the young queens thrive," Willis said.
Willis said Queen IAM is an organization that would have been beneficial for her growing up as she struggled to realize her self-worth as a teen.
Whether it’s tie-dye shirt making, yoga, or making lipgloss and then business plans, each activity Willis plans is meant to help the girls realize their value and potential.
“I think that consistency is the biggest piece that was the biggest impact for the young queens of knowing that OK, I have something to look forward to. I have something I can look on my wall and look at my bed and say, man, I made this.” Willis said.
And to remind them that they are worthy of the title queen.
“It is definitely affirmation and so we look to provide that in every opportunity with everybody. I think it's a lifestyle, like, allowing yourself to know that even if you may not see the big crown on your head you are a queen," Willis said.
Queen IAM serves young girls ages 7 to 17.