Messages Tree

This Awareness Exercise was written by Wende Hilsenrod, Training Specialist with Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) for a parenting class.


  1. Draw a large tree (either download here or design it yourself). Be sure there are leaves, twigs, branches, and a trunk.
  2. Cut out leaves with colored paper and grab some markers.
  3. Write down what you heard when you were scolded (things you hated hearing) on the leaves.
  4. Tape/glue the leaves at the end of the branches.
  5. On the twigs add: Where in the community this was heard (family, school, church, etc)?
  6. On the branches add: What weren't you expected to do?
  7. On the trunk add: What were you expected to do?
  8. On the root add: What is the dynamic at the very trunk of the matter?


  • Leaf: (What you heard) Girls don’t do that
  • Twig- (Where it was heard) in the family and extended family
  • Branch– (What you weren't expected to do) girls could not sign up for Little League
  • Trunk – (What were you expected to do) become a secretary or nurse
  • Root– (The dynamic at the root) sexism and discrimination

Notice how colorful and beautiful the outside of the tree seems to be, but how ugly the roots are. The outside and inside of the tree do not match. What does this tell you?