It’s 8 am at Discovery’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland – racks of dresses are carefully hung, sparkling in the light. Stylists arrange their stations, and employees who have volunteered as mentors prepare to meet their mentees for the day. It can only mean one thing – the return of Say Yes to the Prom.
Shortly thereafter students stream through the doors, jittery and wide-eyed with anticipation. A little apprehensive at first, the high school students chosen to participate in Say Yes to the Prom quickly shake off their nerves as they meet their mentors and dive into the racks full of color and sparkle, eager to get started on their prom transformations. It’s worth noting that the deserving students chosen in each city are not your average high school kids. They’re some of the best and brightest in their schools – making top grades, serving as class leaders and participating in community service.
The overarching goal of Say Yes to the Prom, urging these young people to reach their full potential, extends far beyond the day of glitz and glam or the night of prom. Now in its fourth year, the annual event was designed to build self-confidence among young women and now is touching the lives of more deserving girls than ever before. The program is expanding from coast to coast and has already made its way to New York City, Denver, and Discovery’s headquarters in Silver Spring this year – and it’s not stopping there! The tour still has two more stops to make – Miami and Los Angeles.
For several months I have been working with team members to plan these five events, but it wasn’t until I had the privilege of experiencing one firsthand yesterday that I realized how impactful this initiative really is. Watching these students transform from shy and reserved to confident and proud was an experience that proves how far kind words and a little self-esteem boost can help someone come into their own.
A special addition to Say Yes to the Prom is TLC’s own Monte Durham, star of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, who hosts all five events and gives his personal touch to each ensemble before sending the students down the red-carpet runway at the end of each event. But even more important than Monte’s style advice is his genuine interest in participants, giving them confidence and encouragement to last the ages.
Thanks to generous local and national sponsors, such at Teen Vogue and JCPenney, as well as volunteer mentors in each city, these students are given the opportunity of a lifetime and leave their respective event with their heads held a little higher and their smiles shining a little brighter, proving that Say Yes to the Prom is about much more than just the dress.
To experience the prom magic yourself, take a look at a few photos below from the events in New York City, Denver and Silver Spring and visit our Facebook page for more!