What better way to celebrate National Women’s History Month than by hosting a storytelling event! That’s just what Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast did when they partnered with the Zeiders American Dream Theater on March 5 for the opening of their month-long celebration, “She’s a Brick House.” Following an open-mic session, where girls and adults were able to tell their unique stories, a concert, the concert “Youth, Truth, and Wisdom: A Song Cycle About Women,” was held.
Professional storyteller and Girl Scout alum, Janice (Jay) Johnson, also performed and told how she had an amazing experience growing up as a Girl Scout in Mary Jackson’s troop in Hampton, Jackson was one of the three NASA mathematicians in the film, Hidden Figures. Among the many unique experiences Jay shared was the time Mary Jackson designed and sewed Jay’s prom dress. “She didn’t much like the outdoors, but she taught us so much about life, was the reason I passed Algebra and was like a second mother to me.” Jay said. “Just like today, we met and did activities, but we also as teens would meet at Miss Jackson’s house and just talk. I’m sure what we talked about was quite different from what teen girls talk about now, but we had a chance to ask questions and open up discussion on things that were important to us.”
The celebration also included meeting Girl Scout Alum Renée Calway who as a Girl Scout for twelve years in a troop led by Kathy Bennet. They met at the St. Pius Church in Norfolk, Virginia. “Mrs. Bennet was such an inspiration to me,” she said. “She was always there for me when I needed someone to talk to and we did so much in her troop. She loved camping and made sure we had that opportunity.”
A talented artist, Renée works within the community to facilitate dynamic, interactive healing arts experiences. As an educator, she teaches studio school classes to all ages at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and engages with the community through The ViBe Arts District at the oceanfront. On your next visit, check out her murals! Her exhibit at the Zeiders American Dream Theater, Beyond the Body, pulls upon multi-media on canvas where the names of those women important to our society and lives are inscribed. The name, Leader Kathy Bennett, was on one that was trimmed in a royal blue netting.
After sharing on stage and speaking with Girl Scouts, Renée said, “It’s really important for all of us to hear the stories of women in our lives. The challenges they faced, their sorrows, and their achievements. Their stories have a huge impact on how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. Listening to women and learning from them can give us opportunities to see the world differently and find our passion in life.”