Each year the girls at Heritage are treated to a special day, created just for them, called “This Girl Retreat.”
Shalice Lloyd, a therapist at Heritage, said the theme this time around was “Like a Girl.”
“We wanted the girls to know they are strong, not weak,” Shalice said. “We made them T-shirts that said ‘Like a Girl’ and the girls chose a word to put above it. Some words they chose were ‘hunt,’ ‘fight,’ ‘eat,’ ‘strong,’ ‘groovy,’ ‘capable’ and ‘dream.’ We were really impressed with what they came up with.”
The event was held on October 4 at the Mark Reynolds Photo Studio in Salt Lake City with 50 girls participating.
“They had three rotations,” Shalice said. “The first was henna tattoos. The henna artists were amazing; they loved that.”
Shalice said the second area was making their T-shirts and also a “smash book” – a scrapbook or journal the girls embellished with stickers.
The third rotation was a rec therapy project making play dough and dying it, using it as part of coping strategies.
The girls were treated to lunch, catered by Even Stevens, a local sandwich shop, followed by guest speaker Andrea Vincenti-Dhruv, one of the first students to attend Heritage in the early 1980’s.
“Andrea is a past student,” Shalice said. “It was really cool, very interactive. Andrea talked about now and then, saying ‘I dealt with this’ and girls got to comment and share what they are dealing with – depression, anxiety. They shared coping skills.”
Shalice said Andrea told the girls to be proud of what they’ve done, that they are real women.
“She was sharing her story and what has helped her,” she said.
Andrea, now a mother of five with a realtor’s license, said the girls at Heritage deal with trauma, abuse, depression and anxiety.
“The focus of my speech was touching on those issues, asking questions and letting them answer,” she said. “I wanted to create more awareness. I talked about my experience at Heritage.”
One student was particularly moved by Andrea’s story.
“… I liked her speech,” said Brittany. “It was cool because it inspired me that Heritage has been around for so long and she is doing really good in her life.”
Andrea said she has been friends with photographer Mark Reynolds for more than 20 years.
“He was really great,” she said. “He took the girls’ photos and he will put them online to let the girls and staff members pick which ones they want. He gave them the rights to the pictures so they can print them out.”
Andrea said the girls got to use fun props like hats, scarves, stuffed toys and flowers. Some girls took individual photos; others took pictures in groups or with staff members.
“The girls were able to enjoy each other in a different setting,” said Andrea. “It was a chance to experience something they don’t experience every day.”
Shalice said a great benefit came from the event.
“It was a chance to enjoy being with other girls,” she said, “having fun, relaxing, not worrying about typical worries.”