Project helping girls to find their voice, share their stories

  • May. 28, 2014 8:00 p.m.

A Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School teacher has created a project for girls to come together, collaborate and develop strength through sharing stories via the Pink Voices Project.

The performance takes place on June 4th at 7 p.m. in the Lindsay Thurber drama studio. Collections for the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (CAWES) will be taken at the door in lieu of payment.

“My purpose behind this is to develop self-purpose and self-confidence in young women,” said Project Founder Trina Penner. “I feel that when you develop self-confidence in young women, you affect a positive change for generations to come.”

Penner is a drama teacher, dance instructor and technical theatre director at Lindsay Thurber. All of her classes carry a theme of self-confidence, an issue Penner is working hard to promote with her students.

“There are moments within the show where the writing is personal and challenging. There are moments that are humourous, or sad or poignant. Regardless, it’s their voice and their writing. The transformative power of turning it into a performance is where the confidence comes back into play.”

Penner’s group of girls consists of young women at Lindsay Thurber who meet once a week to discuss and write together. They write based on personal experiences, but also explore collaborative writing. The show is a mix of personal and group compilations.

Penner creates a metaphor saying that the pieces presented in the production are ‘snapshots’ of the girls’ lives coming together to make a an, “Album of moments in time.”

In May 2013, Penner asked several of the Lindsay Thurber students if they would like to be a part of a club that would meet, write and discuss writing together. The group was not intended to perform at first, but Penner said the girls reacted positively to the notion of performance, and so planning began.

She said that she and the girls had no idea what that would look like. It has since transformed into a staged reading performance. This means the ladies will be seated and will take turns presenting pieces to the audience. Girls will read pieces even if they aren’t of personal experiences, but rather someone else’s in the club.

The girls have met once a week for nearly a year, developing trust and a rapport that enable them to be comfortable sharing their personal experiences.

“When you write collaboratively, sharing time and space and energy together, you learn about each other.”

Penner added that she has noticed the development of trust, empathy, support and a definite bond building among the young women.

“We had to learn to trust each other because we’re sharing personal stories and experiences,” said Desiree Frizzell, 17, who will be presenting as part of Pink Voices.

“After awhile it got easier and we opened up to each other. We can use our own experiences to help other people, and that makes me feel good.”

Not all of the girls are born performers, and so had to overcome the challenge of presenting in front of audiences. Penner stressed the fact that this project was initiated to develop self-confidence, and this final performance is a grand test.

Sydney Malyon, 16, will also be among the presenters on June 4.

“I’m so proud of every single girl that’s been involved with this,” she said. “I know that with all of us, there are experiences that we keep inside and I think that a lot of the stuff that we wrote is relatable to the audience.”

The decision to promote and donate to CAWES is something that hits close to home for some of the girls within the group. For Maleisha Barker, 16, the decision is especially meaningful.

“When I found out that we were giving the money raised to the women’s shelter, being that I was in it for awhile when I was little, it meant so much to me. I remember going on field trips and being able to give the money so these kids can have better lunches, better suppers, better trips – that just meant so much to me.”