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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 28, 2019 3 years ago

Sarasota's Girls Inc. steps into a role

Spring break program showcases female role models in 'The Lion King' for members of Girls, Inc.
by: Amelia Hanks Community Reporter

Seeing a role model on stage can have a deep effect on a young girl’s life.

Girls Inc. helped make that connection for a group of girls on spring break last week with the help of the Van Wezel Foundation and a grant from The Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation. The girls learned about strong female characters in “The Lion King” and what they can learn from them.

The girls drummed, created mixed-media self-portraits and wrote poems about who they are and who they hope to be. Then, the girls who took part in the weeklong program took their families to see the production, courtesy of 160 tickets from the Van Wezel Foundation.

Evie Lang said she liked working on the project because it's OK if you mess up.

Kelli Maldonado, from the Van Wezel Foundation, said “The Lion King” delivers a memorable message.

“This is such an amazing opportunity to share and to have a lasting impact on the girls,” she said. “Getting to see ‘The Lion King’ will help the girls maybe get some confidence. Nala has a whole new song different from the movie version, and there’s a lot of strong females in the play, like Rafiki, who is played by a woman.”

Jamie Kattrein, director of K-8 initiatives for Girls Inc., said the program participants were selected with their personalities in mind.

“We have girls doing this that have participated in plays at their schools in the past. Visual and performing is very important to Girls Inc.,” she said. “The girls right now are having to think about who they are and explore themselves. We’re always looking for opportunities like this.”

Middle-schooler TyLee Giorgio is a member of Girls Inc., and she was especially intrigued at the aspect of writing poetry about her past self.

An example of the work the girls completed.

“It’s fun looking back at who I was. I used to be shy, and now I’m more grown up. I’ve become more of a person who knows what she believes in,” she said. “I really discovered my love of acting at Girls Inc. and have even acted in Cinderella at my school.”

After the girls wrote their poems, they learned beats on their drums, which are featured prominently in “The Lion King.”

The girls also made self-portraits in the form of collages. Miranda Moreta-Carrasco was excited to get an opportunity to get to see the production.

“I’ve been in two productions of ‘The Lion King,’” said Moreta-Carrasco. “Most shows aren’t based in a foreign country, so that’s interesting. It’s going to be fun.”

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