BY JAMES HARPER
Britney Parks calls them her “Life’s Jewels.’’
She is referring to 97 little girls she has taken under her wings to make a difference in their lives. But she says she can’t do it alone.
“We need programs for the kids. Someone to believe in them, someone to expose them to different things,” said Parks, who recently organized a cheerleading clinic for girls. The clinic took place at the John H. Dickerson Center in Daytona Beach.
The girls will be showing off what they learned this Saturday at the grand opening of the Yvonne Scarlett-Golden Cultural and Educational Center.
Parks said they also have been booked to perform at the Juneteenth Festival in Daytona Beach as well.
‘It takes a village’
“The children are my jewels. Mentoring makes a difference,” said Parks, explaining that most of the kids want to spend time with adults who care instead of just receiving from them money or material things.
“What happened to the village. It takes a village to raise a child. We have to catch them now and make a difference,” she continued.
“There wasn’t all this violence back in the day. We weren’t stealing cars. Kids weren’t getting pregnant,” she noted.
Parks said it is her eventual goal to give the kids a stable place to go.
“Get the kids off the street. I want to provide them with a program. Cheerleading is easy. I was in sports and youth activities growing up,” Parks said, noting that many of the programs she participated in growing up don’t exist anymore.
“Now they don’t have a lot of sports for kids on this side of town. There is no gymnastics, no cheerleading,” she said, explaining why she started “Life’s Jewels.’
Equipment, uniforms needed
Parks said she hopes to do something year-round for the kids and eventually hopes to form a not-for-profit organization so she can accept tax-exempt donations.
To raise money for the kids, Parks said they will be selling raffle tickets during the Juneteenth Festival as well as accepting donations.
The money will go toward equipment, uniforms for the youngsters and other necessities many of them can’t afford.
“There are so many young kids running the streets. When the police come, the kids know to scatter. It’s a negative. They should not be worrying about crime. They have no time to be kids,” she continued.
“Kids are raising themselves. If programs are provided for them, I know they will come,” said Parks, who at 27 is married with four kids. They range in age from 8 months old to 5 years old.
Started Daytona Tigers squad
“People in the community know me. I care for children. I believe in kids. There has to be someone else out there to help me,” an emotional Parks responded.
Parks’ full-time job is raising her family. She volunteers at the Midtown Cultural and Educational Center. She started a cheerleading squad known as the Daytona Tigers three years ago, which cheers during the basketball season at the center.
“If you give them an opportunity and voice it to them, they will come. It’s cheaper to sponsor kids than get them out of jail. Our kids need help,” she concluded.
For more information on how to help Parks make a difference, contact her at 386-675-9339.