By Richard L. Gaw
Over the past six weeks, several members of the Young Moms of Southern Chester County have not only received support and guidance from women of influence in the community, they’ve also lived the life of artists.
Funded by the Leeway Foundation Art & Change Grant and coordinated with local artist Nanci Hersh, the project, titled “Women of Courage and Influence,” has allowed several young women to create three projects of self-expression. The first, a scrapbook mural recognizing highly influential women who have overcome personal and political obstacles to achieve success, introduced the women to education activist and author Malala Yousafzai, Mexican artist Freda Kahlo and Sonia Sotomayor, associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.
The second project, titled “Exquisite Corpses,” was a self-expression project using paints and markers. A third workshop, “Face Transfers,” was a sculpture project that allowed the young women to create their own visions of an empowered woman.
The Young Moms of Southern Chester County is a non-profit organization that promotes academic, vocational parenting and relational support for pregnant and parenting teens and young women in southern Chester County. The workshop was held at the Willowdale Chapel in Kennett Square.
“The goal of the group is to develop a sense of community so these young women can have a place where they feel supported and connected with other women who are in a similar life situation,” said director Linda Mercner. “This is a place where they feel they are not judged, but just loved. We work with them and try to articulate their goals for the future, and work with them to help them achieve those goals -- from teaching them about potty training for their infants, all the way to achieving academic and personal goals. It’s helping them to set the goal and helping them to get there.”
This is the second project Hersh has done with the Young Moms. In 2010, through a grant by the foundation, she conducted a series of printmaking workshops using recycled clothing. In 2012, an anonymous donor funded an altered books project with the young mothers.
“I wanted to have an opportunity to work with the girls again, partnering them with mentors from the community, and expand their world and introduce them to women of note in history who have faced challenges and had an impact on the world,” Hersh said. “Now, through this project, they’re having the opportunity to create their own super-heroines.”
The Young Moms of Southern Chester County will be hosting a fundraising brunch on April 26, beginning at 11 a.m. at the Kennett Garage Youth and Community Center. For more information and to get tickets, visit www.youngmomscommunity.org.