On the first Wednesday of every month, the family law office of Phillips & Peters celebrates Women Crush Wednesday! These are not sponsored or paid posts – just women business leaders we love to support that are crushing it in Hampton Roads.
We’ve all heard some variation of the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”. In the 21st century, the “village” that rallies around a child for care, protection, and growth looks different than it did in the past. Dr. Jennell Riddick remembers growing up in a tremendous community with lots of support. When she realized not everyone received that same support, she asked what she could do about it. Dr. Riddick found her answer in the creation of her non-profit, Walk In It Inc.
Walk In It serves “with a mission to encourage, empower, and equip girls and women to be holistically healthy and strong.” Like any holistic approach this means not just in one area but overall: educationally, emotionally, socially, and physically. Long before she started in the non-profit realm, Dr. Riddick was a consultant and motivational speaker. Though she enjoyed her work she longed to see consistent change with the female students she encountered. This came to pass in 2007 when Walk In It was founded and it’s first program, Ladies of Distinction, began.
The nonprofit began with focused mentorship of 16 girls. They explored topics like self-esteem, respect for self and other, how to develop healthy relationships, and more. “We wanted them to do well academically, be well spoken, able to handle difficult people, and be confident in themselves” said Dr. Riddick. It wasn’t long before parents and teachers started to notice a difference. Word spread about the positive impact Dr. Riddick was having. Other students jumped on board and schools started reaching out asking for opportunities for their young women as well. Today, Walk In It impacts over 700 girls monthly in 30 locations from 4th to 12th grade.
Over time Walk In It started new programs aimed at parents and women. With such growth, Dr. Riddick moved into a more administrative role to manage her team of directors, volunteers, and personnel. Together they created conferences, self-esteem rallies, gala events, and program curriculums to meet the needs of their growing community. Walk In It continued to serve their village even as the challenges of COVID-19 impacted the world. The Board replaced in-person meetings with virtual ones and focused on basic human needs instead of their pre-determined curriculum. The Walk In It team created care packages for their girls and gave seniors a place to vent their frustrations over losing their milestone year. Dr. Riddick praised her team for their willingness to go above and beyond in these times.
Moving forward, Dr. Riddick hopes for her holistic program to continue to stretch throughout Virginia and across the nation. With the help of a media team, she is working to make her curriculum as interactive, fun, and accessible as possible. For now, she primarily operates out of Suffolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Southampton County, and Franklin. “Every time we see a young lady operate in an untapped area is so rewarding and fulfilling to us,” Dr. Riddick said with a smile. The work she is doing has a lasting impact and is a great benefit to the community of Hampton Roads.