Monday, 26 January 2015

LADIES FIRST: Women's lifestyle conference delivers inspiring mix of empowerment and sister-girl fellowship

TAKING THE LEAD: Event conceptualizer Kiki Thombs at Eden Gardens; a glimpse inside the conference's teen room; (below) speakers Kenrese Carter and Deane Good having a chat.

She had only three weeks to put together a tight package, but when Kerie-Ann 'Kiki' Thombs and her team sat down to plan this year's Lifestyle Change Conference for Women, she knew she wanted to create a memorable experience for Jamaican women that would offer life-changing advice about career, spirituality, money, men, self-empowerment and much more. Mission accomplished. 

Saturday's wonderfully refreshing and insight-rich event, hosted by Eden Gardens, took the form of a day-long conference, complete with booth displays and fun, interactive activities (not to mention giveaways) for participants, with an impressive range of dynamic speakers whose presentations provoked thought, stirred emotions and, more often than not, elicited resounding applause. By and large, these lifestyle pros, life coaches and certified professionals imparted meaningful messages that struck a chord and inspired non-stop note-taking. 

The palpable spirit of sisterhood that we witnessed inside the large white tent, as speaker after speaker took the floor, is precisely what Kiki, as conceptualizer, had in mind from the outset. "As women we go through so much, and we need to show support for each other. That's what this conference is about," Thombs told TALLAWAH during a rare break from her emceeing duties. "More than ever, women across Jamaica need empowerment as they go about fulfilling their purpose. So, for me, this event is about getting the ladies to understand that as women we may face a lot of obstacles on a daily basis, but we have to find a way to navigate our lives powerfully." 

As it happened, several of the day's speakers sought to hammer home that very point to the scores of women in attendance. From Kenrese Carter's rousing 25-minute talk about how to commit to lasting lifestyle changes and Dr. Sandra Knight's tried-and-proven tips for healthier living to Dr. Herbert Gayle's laugh-out-loud session on the female brain and a no-holds-barred discussion on female sexuality moderated by Dr. Carla Dunbar, there was more than enough for the women to absorb. The conference's programme also featured a who's who of inspirational and well-known Jamaican personalities who've walked the walk — Joan Good, Ambassador Audrey Marks, Kamila McDonald and Pastor Ryan Mark, to name only a few. 

Spurred on by the success of the Kingston event, particularly the large turnout, Kiki is gearing up to take the show on the road, with similar conferences being planned for Mandeville and Montego Bay. "We haven't set the dates yet, but they'll definitely be held later this year," she says. "We want to take this message of empowerment across the island." She adds, "We all have our struggles, but at the end of the day we can come together and hep each other improve our lives."

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