How Can Art Make Our Summer Community Powerful?

3 min read

One of the activities girls enjoyed at Summer Program Reunion this year was a “paper quilt” project. Traditional fabric quilts keep us warm, but they also can tell a story, or commemorate a major event. The quilt structure is a wonderful opportunity to invite girls to express their unique perspective with the community. According to Cora Garner, our Summer Program Director,

“This activity provides each participant, through a creative outlet, the ability to reflect on what Girls Leadership means to them. These individual experiences are then connected to reflect the power of the whole community. The activity reinforces that every person’s experience is critical to the whole.”

Summer Reunion Quilt 1

What this Reunion Quilt Says About the Summer Program Community

With the pieces woven together it symbolized a larger story of the values that unite the Girls Leadership family.

We’re Inclusive
We support each other.

We’re Courageous
We learn to be brave in the face of adversity and uncertainty.

We’re Authentic
We listen to our inner voice and stay true to our unique selves.

We’re Playful
We keep things light by making learning interactive and engaging.

Our Community

At Girls Leadership’s Summer Program Reunion, girls reconnect with friends, celebrate the magic of their previous summer together, and play in the snow. This fun-filled weekend tradition is now in its 6th year, and last January, more than fifty 6th through 12th graders gathered at the YMCA Greenkill Retreat Center in Huguenot, NY.

The weekend was a mini version of our 10-15 day summer program at Mount Holyoke in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Girls re-entered a safe and rewarding community, where they were encouraged to be their authentic selves, take healthy risks in a supportive environment, and use their voice to speak up for themselves and others. They slept in bunks, took hikes through the woods, made art, and enjoyed some much needed downtime by roasting marshmallows over a fire and belly-laughing through a round of Pterodactyl. It was a tight sisterhood and living proof that the bonds formed over the summer continue to hold fast throughout the school year.

“The best part of Girls Leadership are the other girls… Our bond is really strong. I call them sisters…We talk about everything, we are vulnerable, we grow with each other… It is a family. I wouldn’t call it a camp.” – Niyea, Summer Program Alum

If you talk to our Summer Program Director, Cora Garner, you will quickly realize this thriving community wasn’t an accident. Cora and her staff were very intentional about planning the social and emotional lessons that have become the hallmark of the Girls Leadership experience. This talented team of educators has years of experience creating environments that allow young people to explore their multiple identities and flourish. They are role models, older siblings, allies, and coaches who are invested in making sure every girl realizes that her voice matters.

Summer Reunion Quilt 2

How to Create Your Own Quilt

Discover the beautiful attributes that make your community unique while working collaboratively on an art project. Here’s what you’ll need:


  • Pieces of a paper (we used half sheets of 8.5 x 11 inch paper)
  • Markers or crayons


  • Group Discussion: What do you love about being a part of this community?
  • Individual Drawing Time: Give the group 15 minutes to work individually on drawing their concept. Play relaxing music as they work.
  • Assemble Quilt: Lay the art pieces together and have each person share their story
  • Group Discussion: Ask the group what the quilt tells them about their community, how it makes them feel to be a part of this community, and what similarities or differences they see in their quilt squares.
  • Follow-Up: Display the quilt for new and returning community members.

Reunion Quilt combo

Ready to experience Summer Overnight Program 2018?

Early Bird Discount until December 31st, 2017

More details here.

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