Wed | Apr 24, 2019

Let’s do this - women supporting women

Published:Saturday | April 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
From left: Renée Wright, Keneea Linton-George, and Carolyn Russell-Smith at the women’s summit held in Mandeville recently.

Mandeville, Manchester:

It was Winnie Mandela, who, during one of her many speeches, said that women are often responsible for their own downfall as too great a focus is placed on the surrounding negativity and not the individual strengths, which can be deepened through intentional collaboration.

Dozens of women in the parish recently gathered for a women's summit, coordinated by Marketing Consultant Annette Salmon, aimed at highlighting the results of consistent hard work and confidence in self - actions that have been tested and proven by those who continue to reap success.

Among the group of multitalented women that offered advice and inspiration to their fellow sisters was Carolyn Russel-Smith, who, for 30 years, has been transforming lives through dance.

"When I came to Manchester to start this school I had three students, one of whom was my daughter, and we later moved from three to 18. We have grown significantly over the years. We have copped five awards in the Caribbean for the highest score in the CXC theatre arts."

Her movement has taken her students to Holland, China, Denmark, Canada, and a trip to Australia coming soon.




"I use my dance to empower lives, not just teaching dance steps - it's a mind, body approach. It takes a lot of concentration and it spills over into the academics. It's not teaching in a vacuum, and I enjoy doing it because I see young girls who have transformed their lives, those who wanted to commit suicide, but came to dance and thought better about themselves and did better in school."

Also in attendance was fashion designer extraordinaire Keneea Linton-George who expounded on her journey through unchartered waters.

After seeking traditional education, as was the norm for her family, she fought long and hard with thoughts of fulfilling her true purpose.

"I decided I was going to take the steps to become a designer. I did courses and I, basically, had to chart my own waters," she said.

She grasped the opportunities that were given to her as a young designer and as she grew, she made a way for other designers through the televised series Mission Catwalk, and even after numerous failures, was able to cement her brand physically and otherwise.

When we hear of persons who won the fight against cancer, they become superheroes in the eyes of those who are on the outside looking in.

RenÈe Wright was one such superhero that day, and her story moved and inspired the room.




Wright said that she had fibroids and later found out she had cancer. Her life came tumbling down until she found the light at the end of the tunnel, eating healthily and exploring the benefits of natural products such as coconut oil.

"I cried for three months. I depended on God a lot, and I even prepared myself to die in the event. I started to treat myself naturally and I didn't take anything from the doctor - and I am not telling people don't go to the doctor - but this illness is dependent on how you treat your body."

Today, Wright runs two successful businesses, one which offers virgin coconut oil in various styles and the other a catering service.

Group executive director, culture and human development, at the JMMB Group, Donna Duncan-Scott, and chairman of Barita Investments Limited, Rita Humphries-Lewin, were also present and offered perspectives on how one can push forward even when the immediate circumstances are crippling.

"You have it inside of you to work through your stuff and to reach a place where you can be at peace with yourself. Remind yourself of who you really are, through all the pain, circumstances and obstacles," said Duncan-Scott.

She said that every individual must be true to self, exercising the ability of choice and operating from spirit and not ego in order to become better versions of himself.