‘At Home with Other Girls’: Local Nonprofit Organization LiveGirl Marks Five Years

Lola Duhov, 11, has participated in workshops and camps hosted by a New Canaan nonprofit organization for more than one year. The Stamford resident, a Scofield Magnet Middle School student, said that prior to getting involved with LiveGirl, she had been “a very not self-appreciative person and I’d always put myself down and thought I was never good enough.”

“So my mom signed me up for [LiveGirl] and I became so connected with it and in sync with everyone and it just made me feel like a better person, and I’ve learned to accept myself more and become a much more positive person,” Duhov said Wednesday from outside the New Canaan High School cafeteria, filled with laughing girls, all cheering and working together at a leadership workshop. Duhov is one of dozens of area girls who have benefitted from LiveGirl since New Canaan’s Sheri West founded the organization five years ago. Pronounced ‘Liv Girl’ with a short ‘i’—it’s named after West’s daughter Olivia—the organization’s goal “is to build confident leaders,” according to West. “Everything we do is to build self-esteem and social and emotional intelligence, which are the building blocks of a confident leader,” West said.

Board of Ed Favors Plan To Start New Canaan High School Nearly One Hour Later

With inconclusive survey results and established health data in hand, nearly all members of the Board of Education said Monday night that the district should pursue a new school start time schedule that allows teens to get more sleep. Though the Board took no formal vote at its regular meeting, seven of eight members present said the district should devote further study to an option that would see New Canaan High School start at 8:20 a.m.—50 minutes later than the current 7:30 a.m. start time. “I think that based on the research that has been done, based on the feedback that we have, it’s worth figuring out whether there is a viable option to have our teenagers go to school later,” Board of Ed Chairman Brendan Hayes said at well-attended meeting, held in the Wagner Room at NCHS. “And the likely [outcome] from that, although I think [it’s] also beneficial for our younger students, is for them to go to school earlier.”

Under the proposed new start time schedule, all of Saxe Middle School would start at 9:05 a.m. (currently 7:30 a.m. for seventh and eighth grades, 8:20 a.m. for fifth and sixth) and the elementary schools at 7:45 a.m. (currently 8:20 a.m. for South School, 9:05 a.m. for East and West). The additional buses needed to realize that system would see New Canaan pay an additional $300,000 to $450,000 annually, officials have said.

Q&A with LiveGirl’s Sheri West: ‘The Art of Being a Girl’

New Canaan-based nonprofit organization LiveGirl on Thursday is launching a new exhibit at the Carriage Barn Arts Center. 

Featuring work from New Orleans-based mixed media artist Ashley Longshore and award-winning artist Michele Voigt, “The Art of Being a Girl” will include work in all media that expresses what organizers call “the essence of female power.”

The exhibit will run through May 26 and features two community events—on May 19, LiveGirl is hosting a benefit with music by Sariah and Hope In Harmony, spoken word by bestselling poet Cheyenne Taylor Jacobs and Voigt completing a piece. Then on May 23, LiveGirl and CWEALF will present “Enough As She Is” with Rachel Simmons, the New York Times bestselling author of “Enough As She Is,” “Odd Girl Out” and “The Curse of the Good Girl.” 

We put some questions to LiveGirl Founder Sheri West about the exhibit and her organization. Here’s our exchange:

New Canaanite: Give me an idea now of how many girls now benefit from your organization’s programs, including Camp LiveGirl. 

Sheri West: This year, we will serve 1,500 middle and high school girls in our free of charge programs statewide. Additionally, we will welcome 150 girls at Camp LiveGirl—to run July 22 to 26 at New Canaan High School—including 60 girls on full scholarship. How will funds raised through “The Art of Being a Girl” support those programs?