Building and maintaining self-esteem is a life-long process. However, our childhood years through our teens are the most critical to our development in all aspects and even the simplest life changes can be damaging to a young mind. Talented Teen Club (TTC) exists as a bridge to help young people find their talents early and build their self-esteem through a variety of programs. This non-profit community organization that was founded by Shawn Ho-Hing King in 2005 is now the fastest growing club in South Florida, providing tutoring, a self-care program, hands-on mentorship, volunteer services, a track and field program, the Miss Beautiful Push for Girls , Mr. Gentleman Training for Boys, a summer camp, Gift for Teens Christmas Gifting Initiative, and a free hygiene store.
Shawn knows exactly how it feels to be a teen desiring guidance after losing her own mother at the tender age of 10. She knows what it is like to rely on neighbors for daily food and resources to survive even at such a young age. She observed both positive and negative examples from her 14 siblings who also struggled due to the absence of parenting skills but who all helped to shape her future. A young Shawn learned the art of self-reliance and developed her own self-confidence from those experiences. She admits that not having her mother to guide her through those teenage years was the worst thing that could happen in her life. But she credits those trials for giving her the opportunity to find her purpose.
Due to necessity, she found her talent for beauty and hair naturally in middle school. At that age, Shawn was unaware that she could make a career out of that skill. So fresh out of high school, she decided to attend technical school for nursing, simply because everyone was doing it. It was there that she noticed other students practicing on mannequins, discovered it was a field she could study, and transferred to the cosmetology program. She breezed through the program effortlessly. With little or no guidance, she fell in love and got married at the tender age of 19, but the marriage was toxic and led to divorce and left her as a single mother to two young children. Shawn also used those life lessons as fuel as she went into auto-mode pouring her soul into building TTC.
In 1999, Shawn curated her very first event to bring young people together. It was called the Talent Explosion Show meant to improve self-esteem and to showcase the natural talents and skills of teens. In grand style, Shawn chose the Kravis Center as the venue and the event was the birthplace of her taking actionable steps in the community for building youth self-esteem. According to Shawn, “If you find your talent, you will find your Purpose.”
TTC started with 20 girls aged 14 to 18 years old per year. With the help of the community, family, and friends, she networked and grew the organization to where it is now, serving over 400 teens per year. The path to the present has had its twists and turns. In the wake of her divorce, she became laser-focused on helping teens find themselves. With her two toddlers in tow and involved, she volunteered TTC in every Palm Beach County activity, gaining recognition for their performances at many events and fairs.
As the organization grew, diverse programs were formed to fulfill the needs of the teens in the community. She initially believed that she would always have to fund TTC by herself. However, TTC has received great support from partnerships with small businesses, family, friends, and small and large organizations such as the United Way of Palm Beach County, the Children’s Council, Walmart, Target, and Publix.
As TTC grows to meet the needs of the teens in the community, there continues to be a constant need for its services. Throughout Palm Beach County, the program goes to where it is needed as it tries to reach teens in public schools and wherever they are. Parents and teens have seen the benefits of participating in TTC’s programs and it is that great reputation that leads to a constant demand for services. Our members have excelled above and beyond our expectations. Past members have gone on to impressive careers in various fields including medicine. As TTC’s Chief Executive Officer, Shawn Ho-Hing King would like to see the organization she founded become a household name globally without barriers. She believes firmly in TTC’s motto, “Our children are our biggest investment,” and will continue to pour her efforts into our youth because our future as a society depends on them.