Living up to its motto “Greater service, Greater Progress,” the women of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority helped usher in Women’s History Month with its 11th Annual Youth Symposium last Saturday.

The Chicago-area chapter of the African American sorority, dedicated to serving youth, hosted their annual event at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren.

Theta Chi Sigma Alumnae, the sorority’s local chapter, co-sponsored the event with The Lamp of Learning Foundation.

This year’s theme was “Surviving the Elements Part II: Change the Weather, Don’t Just Weather the Storm.”

Shana Scott-Moody, a member of the sorority’s civic committee, explained: “The purpose of the youth symposium is to serve as a venue for our young people. We wanted to provide a positive venue for our young people to come together and discuss the different things that they go through on a daily basis in school, at home and in the community,” she said. “We have a panel of experts from all walks of life – from education, social work, the medical field and probation. They are coming together and they have different scenarios that the kids go through. First, they meet together in a small group, then come back together as a large group and creatively act out the small group scenarios.”

Angela Bond, the group’s civic and national programs coordinator, added: “What we’re trying to do today is to give the kids the necessary tools to not only survive and deal with the adverse environment, like peer pressure, but to excel and exceed the expectation society has placed on them.

“So not only are we hoping to teach these kids skills, we’re hoping to learn as much from them as they learn from us.”

Scott-Moody, a professional school counselor at Thornton Township High School, demonstrated some of her training as she interacted with students during the symposium.

For example, when there was too much talking she related to the young people by talking “to them and not down to them.” Other sorority members were able to relate to the youth on a personal level.

Kerena Jackson, one of the coordinators, was able to organize the youth for their free lunch without yelling, but with hugs and smiles. The estimated 300 youth present appeared to enjoy their time at the symposium.

As one young person said: “I fee they are interested in me.”

Sigma Gamma Rho ?" Then and Now

Sigma Gamma Rho was founded in 1922. Its Theta Chi Sigma chapter was chartered in 1999 in Oak Park. A group of 30 professional women with various talents established the chapter to better serve the communities of the greater Chicago area.

Well-known Sigmas include: actress Hattie McDaniel, the first Academy Award winner in an acting category; gospel singer Vanessa Bell Armstrong; Rev. Willie Barrow of Rainbow/PUSH; WGN TV personality Merri Dee; actresses Anna Maria Horsford and Victoria Rowell; and Rev. Barbara Jean Allen, assistant pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.