Youth take to the catwalk on Saturday

Published 10:22 pm Friday, April 6, 2018

The Suffolk Youth Advisory Council and Suffolk Office on Youth will host its seventh annual Increase the Peace Fashion Show Saturday.

The fashion show started seven years ago as a piece of a crime prevention plan. The activity was a way of involving kids in something with the community.

“We have a youth group, and the members at the time came up with the name,” Youth Outreach Coordinator Rickeda Fofana said. “The purpose was to get young people into positive activities to decrease violence, and we just kept the name.”

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Fofana believes the fashion show is a great activity for children of all backgrounds to participate in.

“We have lowered the age to have 4 years old to 18 years old. This gives youth of all ages and backgrounds the chance to work together,” Fofana said. “They are backstage helping with zippers and grabbing ties, and this is a great chance to develop teamwork.”

There is also a greater chance for the kids participating to get to work with different people and people they have just met for the first time.

The models participating in the competition are different from the models on professional runways, because the advisory council accepts almost every child that auditions for the show.

“It gives parents and families a chance to enjoy the youth that wouldn’t typically be able to do a fashion show,” said Fofana. “We are not looking for standard models look. That part of the show has been a great experience, and we get to work with people who are overly excited for the opportunity and those who don’t expect the chance to get into the show.”

While the show does have auditions, almost no one is turned away. The only qualifier to participate is stage presence and energy. The event is also not strictly for models. Almost 30 kids are participating but only 18 are models.

There will be kids singing and dancing in between numbers to entertain the crowd, and this allows children to participate that wouldn’t necessarily want to model.

Fofana’s favorite part of the event is the kids’ excitement. Fofana doesn’t get to watch the show in the audience, but she is backstage helping the kids before they walk or perform.

“The kids’ excitement is great, and I get to hear them come backstage after walking the runway, and they are always so happy,” Fofana said.

The show will be held at 6 p.m. at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, 110 W. Finney Ave., and admission will be $5 for ages 5 and up. The show is not anticipated to exceed two hours in length.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the March of Dimes.