HGHW recognizes ME girls
One hundred and thirty 4th-8th grade girls from Maine, most of whom belong to Hardy Girls Healthy Women (HGHW) girls groups, participated in workshops at the College as part of the fourth annual Girls Rock! Weekend. This state-wide event, which celebrates girls’ leadership, voices and activism, took place from April 8 to 10.
Hardy Girls Healthy Women is a Waterville-based nonprofit organization spearheaded by Professor of Education Lyn Mikel Brown and alumna Karen Heck ’74 is “dedicated to the health, well-being and empowerment of girls and women.”
Girls Rock! Weekend centers around the Girls Rock Awards, which recognize eight-to-20 year old girls from all over Maine, for “being awesome,” said Hannah DeAngelis ’12. DeAngelis serves as a Hardy Girls “muse,” the title HGHW gives to the leaders of their weekly girls groups. The awards fall into five categories, including community organizing, athletics and entrepreneurship. In addition to the awards ceremony, the weekend also consisted of a conference featuring workshops, the performance of a play called That Takes Ovaries and an open mic event.
The conference, held in the Diamond building Friday, April 8, featured workshops designed by girls, for girls. Workshop leaders presented strategies for social change, media literacy and girls’ health. Students from the College, as well as members of the HGHW Girls Advisory Board (GAB), led the workshops. GAB is composed of local high school girls who work in tandem with the HGHW board of directors to provide the organization with a youthful perspective.
Workshop topics included drumming, the environment, advertising and music. DeAngelis and Jenny Stephens ’12 ran a workshop about labels and “what it means to be labeled as something, even if it’s just ‘girl,’” DeAngelis explained. Another workshop, led by Cynia Barnwell ’11 and Tasha De Sherbinin ’11, involved going outside and “yelling empowering things,” DeAngelis said.
During breaks between workshops, Aleah Starr ’11 invited the girls to participate in her “Projection” project, which focuses on eating disorders and images of female bodies in the media. She projected provocative and empowering statements concerning these issues across the girls’ chests, photographed them and asked them what they would say if they could talk back to the media.
“[It’s] really cool,” DeAngelis said, “that [HGHW has] local high school girls working with local younger girls.” She said that this collaboration fosters a powerful sense of unity and community engagement.
For attending the Weekend, the girls were given Girls Rock! t-shirts. Many muses who weren’t running workshops came for fun to spend time with the girls. The conference culminated in a giant dance party and all the girls danced to “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.”