Crowder Crowned Little Miss HOLLA!

Saleeyah Crowder, the daughter of Nakishia Crowder and Travis Thorpe of Wadesboro, has been crowned Little Miss HOLLA! during the annual Little Miss HOLLA! Youth Enrichment Program Event.

She is a first-grade student at Wadesboro Primary School who aspires to be a teacher. She participated in the organization’s Youth Enrichment Program (YEP) throughout its’ eight-month duration. The HOLLA! Youth Enrichment Program is designed to motivate youth to be successful through exposure to positive people, places, and things while improving social capital.

According to Johnie Pettiford, HOLLA’s Program Director, Crowder and other participants were challenged differently this year from the program’s previous ones.

“The girls were charged with contemplating social changes in which they want to be made and creating solutions,” she said. In keeping with her career goals, Crowder wants to address the educational needs of underprivileged children. She would like to solve it by generating a non-profit reading and math camp.

This year’s theme, “Claiming Our Destiny”, was envisioned by Devin Pettiford. Being the program’s fifth year, committee members wanted to celebrate its’ half-decade existence. They did this by focusing participants’ attention on both past and present child activists such as Claudette Colvin and Aalayah Eastmond. Through these girls, participants were encouraged to positively contribute to society now rather than waiting for adulthood.

In continuing to recognize youth this year, local teens were honored during the presentation. “Destiny Seekers” included: UNC-Greensboro bound Jamiyah Sturdivant, Top Teens of America member Jacqueline Cherry, and community songstress Kenya Myles.

First runner-up for the title of Little Miss HOLLA! was Wadesboro Primary School first-grade student, Travia Olivia Huntley. Second runner-up was Morven Elementary School student, Ky’Lah Grace Simons. She is in the third grade.

For inquiries about enrolling a girl, ages 6-13, in this year’s program please contact Johnie Pettiford at www.kidsinc1@windstream.net. Activities begin in November and will continue into 2020.

HOLLA! is a 501c3 non-profit Community Development Corporation founded in 2005 to address low achievement in the Anson County Schools. The organization operates from a facility located at 229 East Main Street in Morven, NC. For more information call 704.851.3144.

By Devin Pettiford

Courtesy photo Saleeyah Crowder, the daughter of Nakishia Crowder and Travis Thorpe of Wadesboro, was recently crowned Little Miss HOLLA! 

HOLLA! Inc. was featured on WTVI PBS’s Carolina Impact for their efforts to change the community.

Alex Gaddy, activities director, reached out to WTVI to inform them of the mission at HOLLA! and its accomplishments and challenges.

“Once the station considered our story newsworthy, they contacted us to let us know they were interested in doing a story on the impact we are making on the community,” said Leon Gatewood, founder. “The process was intense, quite similar to writing a grant or hiring a consultant.”

The producer of the show visited the center to capture video footage for the episode. The process for filming included the WTVI crew being on site at the HOLLA! Center conducting interviews, capturing video footage of various activities at the center and surrounding community.

After the footage was taken, producers reached out for all the information Gatewood and others could give to develop the story. The staff sent pictures, news clips, videos and everything else they could.

All those connected to HOLLA! were “naturally, all excited, yet anxious,” according to Gatewood.

The feature focused on how HOLLA! is working to make a difference in the community through effectively forming meaningful partnerships with other organizations and the local school system. It also addressed how the organization has become a staple of the community drawing the attention of the governor’s office, the secretary of state and several major media outlets.

HOLLA! was featured for its tennis team, step team, mentoring program, summer camp, The HOLLA! Center, and other endeavors like bringing the Winston-Salem State University marching band to town, as well as Livingstone College’s Gospel Choir, marching band and step team.

“The HOLLA! Center is humbled by the number of people as far away as New York who have contacted us on how to get a HOLLA! Center in their communities,” Gatewood said. “The answer is not so simple, but a community that wants change and doesn’t mind working together is a requisite.”

By Natalie Davis

The Anson Record