Elizabeth Smart Shares Message of Hope and Resilience with Heritage Girls
Elizabeth Smart was the keynote speaker at the second annual “This Girl” workshop for girls at Heritage School. Smart, who was abducted, sexually assaulted and held captive for nine months, spoke first to the girls privately in the worship center before dinner.
“A lot of our girls have been abused in some way,” said McKaye Treanor, development director at Heritage. “Elizabeth told the girls that the bad things that happened to them don’t define who they are. She taught them how to let go of the guilt.”
McKaye said although Smart experienced horrific abuse she has a normal, happy life.
“She has a glow about her,” she said. “She isn’t holding onto her anger. She shared some fun stories too like how she met her husband.”
Shalice Lloyd, clinical therapist, said the experience with Elizabeth was empowering for the girls.
“It was amazing,” she said. “To see she could get through trauma and be OK,” was a great message for the girls. “They learned they can live a normal life and have healthy relationships. “
Shalice said it was nice to see that horses are one thing that helped Smart heal. Heritage has an equine program where students are able to work with horses and gain confidence and trust by caring for the big, gentle animals.
After dinner Smart spoke to a packed auditorium in the Loveland Performing Arts Center.
McKaye said the young women of Heritage needed to hear Elizabeth’s message of resilience.
“She told the girls to look for things to give them hope and explained her faith in God,” she said. “It was a very fitting message for the kids.”
Shalice said the girls at Heritage don’t want to talk about trauma or abuse.
“Listening to Elizabeth helped them understand it’s alright to talk about it, that it helps to talk about it,” she said.
Elizabeth took pictures with the girls after her speech.
“The girls will never forget meeting her and talking to her,” Shalice said. “They really connected with her.”