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Dance teachers at Platinum Divaz and Gents empower young women to become leaders

Everyday Hero: Aurora dance instructors build confidence in young girls
Posted at 10:39 AM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 13:09:51-04

AURORA, Colo. — At Platinum Divaz and Gents in Aurora, longtime friends Stanisha Evans-Snellson and Chiniqua Jackson are the heart behind Black girl magic.

"Everybody’s like, 'When are you going to have a girl?' Oh, I have 75," Evans-Snellson said.

The women started coaching cheer for a boy's football team in 2010, but about two years in, they had a realization.

"We just didn’t like how it was just about the boys. They never gave recognition for the girls, and we were like, 'We want something for the girls. We want the girls to feel important,'" Jackson said.

That's how this team, this sisterhood, was born.

"We preach love who you are," Jackson said. "God did not make a mistake when he made you."

For nearly 10 years now, the women have been teaching self-love and inclusion to their dancers while giving the girls a healthy outlet to express themselves.

"No girl has to come in and audition. So whoever shows up gets on the team," said Jackson's mom, Sara Vaughn. "You have girls that come in with two left feet and when they leave, you’re wondering, 'Was she the one with the two left feet?'"

But the biggest changes happen off the dance floor. Just ask Jazoni Johnson.

"I used to feel like people are gonna talk about me because of how I looked," Johnson said.

The 15-year-old was once self-conscious about her body, until Jackson offered some life-changing advice.

"She told me, 'You know, just to always love myself. Everybody’s always gonna have their own opinions about you, but it’s how you look at yourself,'" Johnson said.

It's a sentiment we heard again and again.

"It’s not only about dance and coming to practice. You can come to them for anything, like if you needed a ride, if you ever needed somewhere to stay, if you ever just feel like you needed someone to talk to you can always come to them," said dancer Taliyah Griffin.

Evans-Snellson and Jackson hate to think of where these girls would be without dance.

"Who knows what they would be doing honestly, who knows," said Evans-Snellson.

For two women who never had their own daughters, they are proof you don't have to be related to be family.

"It’s just been an overall blessing, being able to be that support system in childrens' lives," Jackson said.

"I’m just so proud of them. When I see all the girls growing up and what they’ve done — proud of them," Evans-Snellson said.

For more information on the dance company, visit its website here.

Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.