As they enter adolescence, we ask girls to “just say no” to drugs and alcohol, sex and sexualized self-images. Yet this is the age at which it is harder and harder for girls to say “no” to their peers. Psychologists report that girls at puberty are at risk for losing their ability to speak up, speak out and offer their perspective on the world, including how they should be treated and how they want their lives to unfold.
What helps girls most, according to researchers and stories girls themselves tell, is an opportunity to speak up in a protected environment where they can get support from both peers and respected adults. An adult who respects their opinions can help them find the words for “saying no” to unwanted sex, exploitative relationships with older boys, alcohol and drugs.
Expressive activities like visual arts provide a quiet focus, a mode of expression and a context for developing cooperation. A group project provides a context for entering into relationships with other girls and with adults. From the art experience, feelings flow and are gradually acknowledged, verbalized and understood. Girls begin to see what it feels like to have their own voice which they can use to say yes to growth enhancing relationships and no to exploitative ones. Their safety and their psychological development are served by this activity.
Art from the Heart is a workshop that we successfully engaged in with groups of all ages, and is usually modeled as a six to eight week creative activity group with one-hour sessions. Participants are encouraged to learn from and develop alongside their peers.
For more information, contact Georgia Sassen, Executive Director, at info@brikontheweb or (978) 456-7366.