The Wicked Queen may ask who is the fairest of them all in the traditional Snow White tale, but in Fairytale Girl: Reloaded, she asks who is the strongest, smartest and boldest of them all.
"Let me tell you the story," Ashleen Hatten said. "There is no prince. Snow White is packing up for college."
The 8-year-old third-grader was among about 50 girls ages 6 to 11 participating in a Girls Inc. fall break camp in which participants focused on retelling classic fairy tales. The main female characters were portrayed as independent and bold.
The girls also told an all-girl version of Aladdin and made Cinderella into a fashion designer.
In the original versions of these classics, the girl is saved by Prince Charming, said Tocorra Johnson, Girls Inc.'s director of elementary age programs.
"We wanted the young ladies to re-create those endings and give the princesses an opportunity to be healthy, educated and independent," she said.
Camp organizers helped the girls see stereotypes in fairy tales that they may not have noticed. They also discussed media and healthy relationships.
Campers also took a tour of the Tivoli Theatre and used theater, dance and music to tell their fairy tales.
Girls Inc. also offered a fall break camp for middle and high school students called Ms. Independent. The teens learned how to check fluids in a car, reupholster furniture, crochet, fix a bike and rewire a light fixture.
Hannah Vann, director of teen programs, said she especially liked seeing the girls' reaction when a TVA electrical engineer taught them how to rewire a lamp.
"They didn't expect their lamps to turn on because they didn't think that they could do it," said Vann. "But when the light bulb came on, it was like seeing someone win the lottery. You saw the shock and joy in their faces, and their self-esteem went through the roof."
Girls also participated in a self-defense class and learned how to make jewelry, said Vann.
It's a life skills boot camp, she explained.
"We want them to learn how to do things for themselves," said Vann. "Everything we showed them, either they have voiced their desire to learn or either we thought it was important for them to learn."
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.