Young women have fun at Ocean

More than 130 young women from across Hackney celebrated International Women’s Day at a free event held at the Ocean Music Venue in Mare Street.

The theme for the event, organised by Hackney’s Young Women’s Group with support from Youth Services and the Youth Opportunity Fund, was Women’s Empowerment, and it was jam-packed with activities for young women aged 13 - 19 years to develop skills in performance and the arts.

Hackney’s first annual Public Speaking Championship for young women launched the activities, and was closely contested by four teams from Hackney Free and Parochial School, Frampton Park Girl’s Group, Bridge Academy and Haggerston School.

The judges, including a member of Hackney’s Youth Parliament, were impressed by the efforts of the four finalists and encouraged team members to consider standing for the Youth Parliament in the future.

Following feedback on all the performances, the team from Bridge Academy was announced Public Speaking Champions for 2010, supporting the topic ‘There has never been a better time to be a young woman’, and were presented with the inaugural silver salver.

The three team members, Reanna Fagon, 14, Alex Mammone, 13, and Sandra Iheanocho, 14, and their teacher Natalia Dawkins, Community and Relationships Manager at Bridge Academy, were delighted with the result.

“We’re so pleased and surprised to have won being the youngest group,” team speaker Sandra said. “We really only had one lesson to prepare, but we just had to remember to stay calm and be confident. It was scary but great fun.”

Young women also participated in workshops including dance; vocal training; spoken word/ performance poetry; acting; stage make-up and fashion styling; performance skills and confidence building that were part of the activities.

The all female talent show finale brought the event on Thursday 11 March to a lively close, where the attendees were able to show off their talents. The winning contestant was Kiyah Sesay, 15, from Homerton, who received £100 in shopping vouchers for her vocal performance.

For more information about Hackney’s Young Women Group and future events, contact: Ciara McDonnell 07849 075130 or