BALTIMORE — A special kind of royalty meets on Thursdays at the Herring Run Rec Center in Northeast Baltimore.
They are girls ages eight to 18 and they come once a week for a meeting of Young Queens in Training.
The head queen, and founder of the group, is 25-year-old Briauna Wills.
"I want to incorporate etiquette training, what I think is poise and grace and what all young women should be and that’s queens," she said.
Wills started the group in December of 2017, not long after she had her daughter Savannah.
"I wanted to see the change I know I wanted for my daughter in my community," Wills said. " I just love my city, I love being able to help make my community stronger."
When she's with the girls, Wills focuses on activities and tasks to help the girls act and feel their best.
"We have a curricular that is based on social and emotional wellness. We are trying to provide these girls with life skills training and that they’re prepared for society and to go out and become amazing pillars of our community."
Community engagement is also important to Wills and Young Queens in Training. The girls attend charity events and hold bake sales. They've learned how to sew, make bracelets and painted kindness rocks with Baltimore City councilwoman Danielle McCray.
Many of the girls, and even some of the parents, look at Wills like a family member.
"She’s like a mother to me," said 13-year-old Rim Solomon. "She’s a very good person and there’s no one like her, and I appreciate everything she’s done for us."
"She’s that extra hand, she’s like a mom to some. To my girls, she’s like Aunt Briauna," said Keyawna Scruggs, whose three daughters are in the program. She said Young Queens in Training has had a positive impact on her girls, especially her youngest two.
"Since they’ve been coming, they have been learning I’m going to be a leader and people are going to follow me but for good reasons."
Wills strives to give her all to the girls and Young Queens in Training while balancing a career and family.
"I get lot of my strength and passion from them. They’re passionate about me coming here, they’re passionate about participating in this group, they’re passionate about uplifting their community and being a change."
Young Queens in Training is hosting its first Youth Empowerment Retreat in December for girls ages 12-21. For more information, click here.