Pinellas Park: This summer, the Florida Holocaust Museum (FHM) partnered with Girls Inc. of Pinellas Operations SMART Summer Camp on”Breaking Down Barriers,” a new and innovative project of the museums’ Speak Up Speak Now! (SUSN) outreach program. Over eight weeks, girls age nine and older engaged in discussions, activities and field trips that examined concepts including prejudice, stereotypes, bullying and other sensitive topics, helping the girls gain tangible tools to create a more tolerant and inclusive future for everyone.
Part of the program was creating an evocative visual art component in the form of a hand-painted picket fence over 50 feet long. The fence represents how barriers such as prejudices and stereotypes keep opportunities and new relationships from developing. Each girl created her own picket reflecting her thoughts and feelings on creating a more tolerant world. The picket fence will become a traveling exhibition and is installed onsite at Girls Inc. for a month.
On Monday, August 12th from 5:30-7 pm, a “Breaking Down Barriers Reception” will be hosted at Girls Inc, and the public is invited to view the installation and hear from the girls who created it. Each girl’s interpretation of bringing peace and tolerance to our world is on display on the fence in front of Girls Inc, located at 7700 61st Street North in Pinellas Park.
“It was an amazing experience working with the girls and watching them grow through this program,” said Amanda Saft, FHM Board member and SUSN Chair. “They have been able to learn complex ideas like upstander vs. bystander behavior and relate it to their daily lives.”
“I want to thank Girls Inc for giving us the opportunity to partner with them for this important program,” said Elizabeth Gelman, FHM Executive Director, “Speak Up Speak Now! really gets to the heart of the Museum’s mission to make the lessons of the Holocaust relevant to our world today. That these girls learned so quickly to put these lessons into action gives us all hope for a future that recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of all people.”
Speak Up Speak Now! is made possible by funding from founding sponsor, Bank of America with additional funding provided by Florida Department of Education. Materials for Breaking Down Barriers were provided by Home Depot. Volunteers, teachers and staff from the Holocaust Museum and Girls Inc. led the girls in creating the fence and examining the issues of tolerance and how to break down barriers between people.
“For over half a century, Girls Inc of Pinellas has had a profound and life-changing impact for thousands of girls in Pinellas County and is known as the ‘go-to place’ for growing great girls. The Girls Inc After-School Academy and Operation SMART Summer Camp help today’s girls develop the tools to build, and the vision to plan their very best futures,” said Girls Inc CEO Renee McInnis, “and Breaking Down Barriers is an integral part of our summer program, teaching respect, acceptance, and empathy, all important skills for creating a better world.