Walking Our Talk and Running Like a Girl

Antioch University Seattle envisions that its graduates this spring will emerge with a heightened sense of their power and purpose and be prepared to put theory into practice. With the Run Like A Girl summer program, AUS Practicum & Internship students in Drama Therapy (DT) will run into the woods and pass this same vision into the very capable hands of middle school girls.

The phrase “like a girl” calls into question a girl’s capability. And the fact that this micro-aggression is so often tied to sports performance is doubly damaging. Run Like A Girl celebrates the power that sports can provide, developing in girls the intentional active strategies we all need to build self-confidence and seize the day.

Run Like A Girl (2004) filmmaker Charlotte Lettis Richardson (also a decorated runner) credits losing races with teaching her the most about herself. And in her 2011 memoir, Run Like A Girl, champion athlete Mina Samuels outed her fiercest opponent—the one within. This August, AUS’s own local theatre-sports star, AUS Drama Therapy Co-coordinator Bobbi Kidder, MA, RDT/BCT, shines a light on Like A Girl fierceness and the power of story with a reframed “On the Road” student field experience at Table Rock Foundation summer camps.

Since 2014, Kidder has noted the high percentage of young girls referred to Camp Phoenix, the camp at Table Rock Foundation that serves middle school kids from Oregon’s Jackson and Josephine Counties who have experienced severe trauma. Given the emotional and physical changes naturally at work in the bodies of ten- to thirteen-year-old girls, Bobbi thought a powerful camp to run like girls, with girls, and for girls might be in order.

Run Like A Girl offers AUS intern urbanites a rare regional view of rural life. And by confronting derogatory definitions of girlness and the effect societal shaming can have on self-image, they will champion the campaign that is changing the narrative.

Kidder is no stranger to programs that focus on social justice and empowerment. Run Like A Girl takes a page out of the playbook Kidder used for Inside/Out, a community ensemble with young women prisoners at Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility. “We set the stage for recognizing assets—we create and share stories about them.” Kidder’s practice, strongly based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, reframes concepts such as meaning, truth, and like a girl, and puts a voice to the oppressor within—sometimes multiple voices. Kidder calls it “performative.” “With Boal’s rainbow of desire aspect, we answer our own voices and silence the ones that hold us back.”

Alongside the camp’s Rainbow Grandmothers, and amidst the webs and native wisdom of a truly enchanted forest, it is intention and not service that Kidder and her interns provide. They will work together for moments of choice and potential, inspired by a quote from the Aboriginal elder and educator Lilla Watson: “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”


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