By Steve Blanchard - September 27, 2021
This month, Moffitt Cancer Center’s McKinley Outpatient Center has something new for you to see: an art display by the young women participating in the Girls Inc. of Pinellas program.
Their artwork, which features crowns, is a play on the organization’s mission statement to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold.
“The display itself reminds the girls that they are the queens of their own lives, hence the crowns,” said Girls Inc. Executive Director Darla Otey. “It reminds these young women that they get to choose to be strong and identify with the fact that they love science, music or what have you, and that they will pursue it.”
Girls Inc. of Pinellas is part of the national organization, which was founded in 1864 at the tail end of the American Civil War. The Pinellas chapter is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
The connection between Girls Inc. and Moffitt wasn’t an accidental one. The organization reaches out to women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) leadership and asks them to speak to the young women in the program. Dr. Avan Armaghani of Moffitt’s Breast Oncology Program not only spoke to the girls, but also wanted to find a way to get them even more connected and involved with science and research.
"I think it is so important to empower young girls and equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to pursue their dreams and achieve their goals."- Dr. Avan Armaghani, Moffitt breast oncologist
“I think it is so important to empower young girls and equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to pursue their dreams and achieve their goals,” Armaghani said. “This relationship between Girls Inc. and Moffitt is very special and really highlights the importance of arts in medicine and the powerful effect it has on the healing process.”
Several of the girls participated in the art project and 10 are now on display in the waiting area of the breast clinic. Otey said the girls were excited to know that their artwork would be on display.
“I think it gave them a sense of empowerment, where they understood that the work they do can truly impact other people,” Otey said. “This has also helped them understand that people who are suffering or reflecting on life during a major life event can benefit from art, since it has a way of touching them. I think they understand how there is a healing benefit that we share with one another as members of our community.”