Ministry teaches women, girls to live their dreams
Dance instructor Amanda May leans into a stretch as the girls around her imitate her movements.
"Who wants to pray today?" she asks the class.
"Me!" shouts 5-year-old Maddi.
The class is part of Drama Queen Ministries, which focuses on encouraging self-worth in women and girls based on their identity in Christ.
"We forget we're royalty through Christ," founder and president Shelly Wilson said. "We think our dreams are for when we're little. But if we're breathing, we have a purpose."
The nonprofit was founded last year, and the dance studio opened Jan. 7.
Self-esteem and self-worth issues are a big part of what clients face at the Samaritan Counseling Center in Tyler, which is not connected to Drama Queen Ministries. Executive director and licensed clinical social worker Fonda Latham sees the problem every day, she said.
Girls' self-esteem "is an important issue right now," she said. "A lot of women have to undo issues they get from the media. Even girls who have parents who have tried to give them the right message, once they hit 13, 14, 15, they can still struggle."
The message that Drama Queens tries to instill is purpose and value is inherent through the message of the Bible -- an idea that Mrs. Latham said she uses every day at the counseling center.
"At the end of the day, your worth can't be based on other people," she said. "They'll let you down every time, and you can't perform long enough to keep them clapping. Girls need to understand this, but it's very difficult to teach. It has to be modeled to them, and they have to internalize it for themselves. They have to own it."
Mrs. Wilson, now 42, uses her own spiritual journey as inspiration to help others.
"I was 30 when I found the Lord, even though I grew up in church," she said. "Four months after my son was born, I lost my mind for about a year. The only thing I could hear was the voice of the Lord. When I went to church before, I just followed a crowd. He was just some big God up there; I never read the Bible, it was just a historical book. Now there's definitely a difference."
Along with a slew of dance classes for women and girls of all ages, the ministry also offers writing and art classes, as well as birthday parties and other events.
"Any gift we've been given, you can use to minster to others," Mrs. May said. "Any communication between you and the Lord you can give to others."