Arkansas Middle School Coach Venture Watson is a fighter and a go-getter.
Venture is a coach at Arkansas Middle School, and -- along with being a mentor, wife, mother and former Mrs. Arkansas -- she uses her platform to empower the young women she teaches.
When Venture was in high school, she was diagnosed with a rare disease that left her initially unable to speak after eight surgeries on her vocal cords.
"They're telling me I won't ever talk again, I'm a girl who don't have any money to her name and I'm trying to go to Paris, France and I'm trying to go to Spain, I'm trying to go because I was chosen for this leadership thing," Venture said.
She continued to participate in small town pageants, choosing to tweak her talent from singing to reading poems.
"We could only afford the $25 pageants that the schools would have, so we would pay the $25, my grandmother and my mom would make my dress and I would compete," Venture said. "It was never about the beauty stuff, it was just a fun thing to do. And then I got into pageants because my mom taught me to sew."
Venture said these $25 "4H" pageants were different from most, contestants had to cook a dish and explain the nutritional value and pass a taste test, along with designing and creating an article of clothing.
She uses these skills and lessons in her everyday life but also uses them to hold special events to empower others, such as her Girl Empowerment Day Camp and Girl Power Pageant.
"We had over 100 girls sign up (for the Girl Empowerment Day Camp), it was amazing. We had limo rides, we had a group (of female police officers) that did a demonstration with the girls, we had yoga upstairs and we had a young lady that was at Liberty-Eylau, she was a homecoming queen and she talked about like, her struggles and how she's better now and she's playing Division One ball in college," Venture said.
Watson said the feminine-centered event also holds a panel where the participants get to ask questions of community role models.
"The panel of people, they had to know that these girls are struggling to go through life and we need to be there to help them with their stresses," Venture said.
The coach said she also puts together a small drawstring bag of hygiene items to take home and a free T-shirt for each girl to wear on the day of the event.
"This young lady, she came up to me and you know what? The thing she was most excited about was her toothbrush. And I looked at it and it really touched my heart, because out of everything that we gave -- she said 'I'm so excited because now I have a toothbrush because my other toothbrush, almost all the bristles are gone,'" Venture said.
Venture said she puts the bags together with her own money and through the help of her family, along with generous sponsors from her church but said that she always needs more help.
"The girls still talk about it every single day and I didn't know if I was going to be able to do it this year, but because they continue to talk about it -- because it's something that I feel impacted their lives -- I want to do it again."
Venture has led a colorful life, such as working as a sports reporter who interviewed high profile basketball players such as Steph Curry, Lebron James and Brittney Griner.
"There's a lot of time, we as women, we are so strong ... that you go through so much, and you just hold it in. And whenever obstacles come -- someone's telling all your business or whatever -- you just keep going," Watson said.
Watson's Girl Empowerment Day Camp will be held at Arkansas Middle School on Saturday, April 15. The Girl Power Pageant will be held at Bright Stars Theatre in Texarkana at 10 am Saturday, May 6.
For more details, contact Venture Watson at [email protected] .