Inside the Town of Indian Head, a trio of special young girls joined an elite group of girls and women to have their likeness immortalized on the brick and mortar canvas of the Town of Indian Head Center for the Performing Arts, known by locals as Blackbox Theater, during a June 15 and 16 weekend celebration.

Lori Pratico, artist and founder of Girl Noticed Inc., partnered with the Town of Indian Head Parks and Recreation and local organizations Phenomenal Young Women Inc., Cage Free Voices LLC and Real Women to support the event.

Fresh off her trip from recognizing Alaska’s young women, the self-taught artist chose the township of Indian Head to host the charcoal mural project after making contact with the local nonprofits which promote the self esteem of young women through various motivational, mentoring and education programs.

She praised the positive impact the organizations had on the full age spectrum from mentoring to young girls to mature women.

“They’re not huge organizations, but within their community they’re doing great things and they quickly embraced us working together and brought a third organization into the fold,” she added. “What’s cool about the three organizations is that they cover every age of a women, young girls, young adult women and they’re also for mature women, and my project embraces all women. It was a perfect fit for us.”

The organizations engaged Councilman Curtis Smith for support and he quickly joined the effort, hosting the workshops at the Indian Head Pavilion on the Village Green.

Founded in 2015, Pratico envisioned her nation-wide mural project would uplift the self-esteem of young girls and women, which she has promoted throughout her travels to 11 other states around the nation.

“I started my organization because I knew that my art work had a voice and I could say something through it,” the Philadelphia artist said. “I decided what I wanted to say and where I could make a difference in the lives of young girls by bringing communities together to notice the girls and young women in their communities; to show how important and how valuable they are to a community.”

Wanting to highlight the young women of Indian Head, Smith noted, “Highlighting our women has been one of my number one priorities, because women are the core that has kept many communities together.”

After personal statements were submitted for the candidates, Pratico selected Chante Coleman, 23, Lilliana Smith, 13, and Mylah Matheson, 11, for their individual uniqueness, strengths and character.

She noted nominations cover a wide spectrum, from overcoming personal struggles to momentous achievements. The individual chosen represents many others like them, she said.

Some of the representatives from the nonprofits and candidates spoke candidly about the positive aspects of Girl Noticed being recognized in Indian Head.

Coleman, the most mature candidate, was grateful for the honor by the Indian Head Town Council, Real Women organization and Girl Noticed.

“It’s an honor to be selected. I have a daughter who’s 8. So for her to see someone honor her mom with her image posted on a building would be very nice,” Coleman said. “She saw me graduate high school, she just seen me graduate college barely a month ago from Trinity Washington University, so good things can happen. I want to be a social worker. I love kids, teens and I definitely love teen moms, because I am one. I’m starting out with social work, but I eventually want to start my on nonprofit to help teen moms and dads with resources.”

Coleman, who majored in human relations with a minor in business and concentration in child and families, said, “There’s not a lot of resources for teen moms there.”

Coleman is already supporting her community by providing students with 100 book bags full of school supplies annually and granting kids wishes from Christmas letters.

“I just want teen moms out here to know that they have someone that has been in that space. My situation was way different from most teens; I have a great support system. My mom is everything. I want my organization to be that space for teen moms,” she said.

Bath Sheba Smithen, Young Adult Real Women director, said Coleman is an exceptional young lady.

“I’ve seen her encourage other young women, but not just that, I know her story,” Smithen said. “I know all of the obstacles she’s had to overcome, and I thought that in that story, she should be noticed, in the fact she has gone from being a teen mom to graduating just recently from Trinity Washington University. She went through a lot of turmoil leading up to her graduation. When you watch your mentee or your students go through so much and they persevere, you see the tenacity, you see the grit, it’s always such a blessing to be able to see them acknowledged.”

What visibly stands out first about Lillian Smith is that she radiates positivity and confidence, despite being challenged with a heart condition. Equally excited for their daughter’s acceptance of the unique honor are her parents, Councilman Smith and Candice Smith.

“We are just as excited as Lillian to see her image of face captured. We’re really blessed to have such a wonderful child,” said Smith and his wife, parents of three boys and three girls.

“I’m trying to teach every woman, but if get I can reach the girls before they make it to my age, no matter what has happen in their lives at home, if they have a learning disability or whatever they’re dealing with there’s always something about them worth noticing,” Pratico said. “There’s always something worthwhile in them and they’re fine just the way they are. That’s what my organization is about and we embrace that. What movements like #MeToo and others have done for me and my project is that I’m still saying the same thing I did three years ago, but now people get it a little more and see the necessity of my project more.”

Pratico began her artistry around 7 a.m., using charcoal highlights to capture the images of the three Indian Head natives. Approximately eight hours later, she unveiled the faces.

The finished, larger-than-life-size portraits drew smiles from the girls and cheers from audience members. The girl’s image is drawn in charcoal along with the words “Just B You” and “NOTICE ME,” on a large exterior wall of the Black Box Theater for all who drive down Indian Head’s main road past Town Hall.

Pratico noted the images will fade off the wall, reminding us to “notice” the girl and what makes her feel good about herself, what gives her value, before it fades away or is changed. It is a temporary mural with a positive and permanent message. The mural will remain for 30 days or until it fades from weather conditions.

“I truly support this project and through planning and sweat equity made it a success. This community wide event brought all ethnicities together,” Curtis Smith said, referring to the weekend event surrounded by workshops, music and food. “All the effort was worth seeing the smiles on the girls’ faces. I’m very thankful that I was brought into this project, which allowed this tremendous event to be held in the Town of Indian Head and worked with the council and town staff to coordinate things. The core of any healthy community are activities like these.”

For more information about the Girl Noticed Project, contact Pratico at 954-605-5208, or go to www.girlnoticed.com.