The Pink Voices Project demonstrates the power of empowerment

Any parents who wonder what goes on in their teenagers’ heads might want to attend a showing of The Pink Voices Project.

Any parents who wonder what goes on in their teenagers’ heads might want to attend a showing of The Pink Voices Project.

A student empowerment initiative was transformed into a piece of performance art and will be staged Wednesday, June 4, at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School in Red Deer.

The effort began when teacher Trina Penner urged seven female students to write down their personal stories for a year as a way of growing their self-confidence.

The drama and dance instructor told these young women that journal writing can help affect positive personal change. “As a teacher you have an instinct about what students might need a little extra, whether it’s a smile or some attention — a little extra that can change their world.”

After 12 months of jotting down their thoughts, the students were encouraged to turn their personal stories into a performance piece. “Anytime you give somebody an opportunity to share their voice, that’s power,” said Penner, who believes support, trust, collaboration and confidence building can all germinate from the act of staging an ensemble production.

She admitted some of the girls, who come from different social circles and grades (Grade 10-12), had concerns about sharing some of their stories and were given “veto power” over what would be aired for the public.

But the stories they agreed to read are still sad and funny and personal. “They are like snapshots or thoughts that these teenage girls have been thinking, or wondering or pondering, about life,” said Penner, who believes the subject matter is appropriate for all ages.

Grade 11 student Maleisha Barker wrote humourously about an odd-socks basket that no one in her family wants to sort through, and penned a more serious piece about feeling like a misfit among various high school cliques. “We wanted our moms and dads to understand about what’s important to us now,” said Barker.

“Yes, we are still teenagers and in high school, but high school is our life.”

Fellow Grade 11 student Sydney Malyon wrote about the kinds of things that shaped her or helped her to grow — such as breaking up with her first boyfriend. “That was a big experience that changed me a lot,” said Malyon, who turned it into a monologue she titled “Dear Future Husband.”

She added that sometimes the best way of realizing how she felt about an incident came through writing about it.

Both girls enjoyed meeting for the empowering Project during noon-hours, or spare periods in the library because it presented a safe place to share feelings and experiences.

Becoming friends with girls they might otherwise not have gotten to know was another thing both students appreciated.

Everyone is invited to the 7 p.m. performance in the Lindsay Thurber drama studio. Admission is free, but a collection for the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter will be taken at the door. (There’s rush seating.) A reception will follow in recognition of the work the young women have done over the last year.

For more information, please call 403-347-1171.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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