Small clouds of hairspray lingered in the air as colorful shadows were on dusted eyelids amid conversations of graduation plans and career goals.
High school students gathered at the Cordova Family Resource Center on April 27 for the “Get Ready with Me” pre-prom gathering hosted by CFRC and BIONIC, CFRC’s Believe It or Not I Care youth prevention group.
“I just thought it was something to do before prom because I know a lot of people go to their friend’s house but … what if you don’t have that kind of opportunity …,” said Cordova Jr./Sr. High School Junior Jessica Wray, who helped write the mini grant which made this event possible.
Wray currently is an intern at CFRC and helps with the summer art program.
CFRC staff and BIONIC members, Wray, Gracie Hatch, Braden Beckett and T.J. Hatch, attended the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ “Lead On! For Peace and Equality” conference in 2018.
Teens from around the state attended the conference to learn to become team leaders within their communities.
They were encouraged to come up with ideas to deal with domestic violence and sexual assault, equality, teen dating awareness, bullying and other issues that impact youth, said CFRC Prevention Coordinator Emily Stoddard.
“BIONIC wrote this mini grant funded through Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and Recover Alaska with the support from CFRC staff Nicole Songer and Tania Carson,” Stoddard said.
Hosting “Get Ready with Me” was a way to address the issues of youth “pre-gaming” prior to prom by creating an event that offered a safe and fun place for students to hang out and get ready for the dance.
The $3,000 grant helped cover the cost of supplies including dresses, shirts, accessories, food, materials and decorations.
They ordered the dresses in bulk and held four different shopping days where students could try on clothing and accessories, place them on hold, and reserve their hair and makeup appointments.
“The shopping days are a key factor for the prevention strategy of ‘Get Ready with Me’ because at the shopping days the teens are able to get the opportunity to go through what clothes we have, at their pace, and get a shopping assistant to help them pick out the outfit that is perfect for them,” Stoddard said.
If needed, students also had the option to get dresses or shirts altered by volunteers Heidi Ritter and Darla Church. CFRC also provided a ride to the dance and teens received boutonnieres and corsages as a thank you for participation.
“The goal was to have them be excited to come to the final event instead of wanting to go pre-game for prom,” Stoddard added.
The event also helped students learn skills such as how to iron clothes.
Seaside Salon’s Ema Babic, Maiden Cordova’s Liane Stephens and Shags Hair Studio’s April Horton donated their time and supplies for hair and makeup.
Both Stoddard and Wray noted the students were more confident after getting their hair and makeup done.
“They would see their reflection and be so happy with what they saw,” Stoddard said. “I even had some teens that expressed gratitude that they were able to go to prom in a new outfit and, in some cases, that they were able to go to prom because of this event.”