‘Live Yo Life’ group inspires, empowers teen girls

By Shirley Hawkins

Contributing Writer

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Nakiesha Scott knows what it’s like to be a teenage girl without much adult supervision.

She has used her experiences to form a nonprofit organization — Live Yo Life — that works to inspire and empower teen girls in the West Athens community to overcome the hurdles that they face growing up.

Also known as “Moma Boo Boo,” Scott admits that her childhood was rough.

“My mother was on drugs, so I had no parental guidance,” she said. “She just did drugs my whole life. Then she got medically incapable of going to the dope man. 

Watching her struggling with substance abuse taught me to never do drugs.”

Scott, the mother of three, said that school also proved to be a struggle.

“I couldn’t even read or write, but I kept getting passed onto the next grade,” she recalls about her days at Centennial High School in Compton.

With little to no parental supervision to guide her, Scott sought solace by joining a gang.

“But starting a youth organization to mentor at-risk young girls was always in the back of my mind,” she said. “I knew there were many girls like me who needed guidance due to a lack of structure in their households. I wanted to mentor them and be the support they needed that I never had when I was growing up.”

Scott founded Live Yo Life in 2019. She passed out flyers at local schools and posted them on social media sites to recruit girls ages 11 to 18.

“We teach teen workshops, life skills, enrichment activities, etiquette, career development, morals, values, leadership and teen pregnancy prevention,” she said. “But we also focus on self-esteem, self-worth and becoming an independent thinker.

“If they write, sing, rap or dance, I tell them to do what they want to do and to listen to their spirit.”

Despite the building where they used to meet shutting down, Scott still picks the girls up twice a month in a rental van. 

“Then we always go on an excursion,” Scott said.

Scott also plans activities for the girls year round. 

“We sponsor a toy and turkey giveaway on Christmas Eve,” she said. “And some of the girls and I will be feeding the elders at South Bay Gardens, a 100-unit senior citizens complex, for Thanksgiving.

“We also sponsor a community cleanup day and the girls help me to pass out food to the community which I do every Saturday,” Scott said.

Realizing that many of the girls had never explored the sights beyond their own neighborhoods, Scott takes the girls on trips

“We’ll go to the Queen Mary or the Escape Room in Hollywood,” she said.

Scott recently took the girls to Big Bear for three days and two nights. 

“The girls had never been to Blg Bear and I was teaching them how to cook,” she said. “We went to the amusement park and did some ziplining and then watched the fireworks show from the pool at Big Bear Lake.”

Dream Hardy, 13, a member of the group for two years, said, “I loved going to Big Bear. I really got a chance to get to know the girls. They were really funny and we cooked tacos, burgers and breakfast.”

Hardy said she loves the feeling of growing up and how members of the group support each other. 

“And Moma Boo Boo is cool,” she added. “She lets us be in our own type of vibe.”

Breezjae Scott, 17, said she has been a member of Live Yo Life for four years.

“We have a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s a real welcoming place. The group really helped me to understand who I am as a person and what I want to be in life, which is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. I really enjoy helping people.”

Scott recently took the girls to the Compton Woodley Airport which is currently recruiting girls from age 8 to 18 who are interested in becoming pilots.

“The pilot took them on a 15-minute ride around Compton,” Scott said.

Only one of the girls had ever flown in an airplane before.

“One girl who finished the flight was trembling when the plane landed,” Scott said. “She said she was scared, and she was still trembling when she reached the ground but she hugged me and said she was glad she took the flight.”

Scott said that when some of the girls are facing crises, she doesn’t hesitate to provide counsel and get help.

“There were two girls in the program who confessed they wanted to commit suicide because they were being molested,” she said. “One moved out of state, but I still keep in touch with her.

“The other confessed that she was being molested by a family member. Luckily, he’s in jail now and I was able to get her some therapy.

“These girls are way smarter than … we give them credit for,” Scott added. “They are very intelligent but I feel they get too much information from social media.”

Scott’s good work has not gone unnoticed.

She has received certificates of recognition from the Los Angeles Police Departent, Los Angeles City Councilman Tim McOsker abd U.S. Rep. Nanette Barragan.

As she urges her girls to “never give up” when it comes to pursuing their dreams and goals, Scott said she is always amazed by the wonderful transformation she witnesses in the girls once they join Live Yo Life.

“I tell them, ‘You don’t really know what you’re good at until you try it. Try to find your purpose young and don’t try to limit yourself.’

“I love seeing the mindset change in the girls when they find out that they are Black, beautiful and talented,” Scott said.

For more information on Live Yo Life, visit the website at https://liveyolife32.org.

Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at metropressnews.com.