Hear what youth and adults have to say about Girls Circle and The Council for Boys and Young Men. Do you have a story you'd like to share? Email us! Check back for more Testimonials on Women's Circle.
|What Girls Say About Girls Circle
“This is the first time I felt understood by other girls and by an adult”
"I thought I was the only one who felt like this, but Circle made me realize that I am not alone."
“What I like about Girls Circle is the different kinds of friends that I’ve made from completely different social groups. Before the group I had certain ideas about how the girls in the group were and in some cases, we didn’t get along at all. Now, we have something in common and understand each other more”
“I feel like my mom and I understand each other better now and we fight a lot less.”
Written to the facilitator on a piece of paper left behind after group: "If I'd had people like you to listen to me before, I may not have ended up here. Thanks for taking the time to be here for us."
The Council Facilitator Testimonials
“The boys are very engaged. I truly believe it is because of the natural flow of the Boys Council. The boys have developed relationships with each other and it’s been a huge success. We’re going to begin an additional Boys Council at our family respite center.”
Daniel Bland, Facilitator, St. Francis Home Family Support Center, New Haven, CT
“Our boys don’t have to go – it’s completely voluntary and they come because of the environment that is created with the boys and adult facilitators. Boys have said that they feel they can trust each other and that they are not alone. They feel more confident and open and have been thinking about their future more and how their actions affect their future.”
Melissa Peterson, Project Coordinator, Anderson Partnership for Healthy Children, Anderson, CA
“The boys are communicating honestly and openly within the group, and working together in team activities prompted by the curricula. We’ve been talking about father figures, and role models, and they are expressing things they never did before.”
Juan Gomez, Trainer, The Council for Boys and Young Men, and Facilitator (previously with Barrios Unidos, serving youth within Santa Cruz County Probation Youth Camp)
“The group is going great. The boys really like it.”
De Vere Karlson, Chief, Churchill County Probation, Fallon, NV
“Greetings from St Paul, Alberta. I am a Success Coach in a rural school. I am presently running two Boys Council groups. One at the grade five level and one at grade six. Both groups are going really well. Both groups are following Growing Healthy. The course outline works well with the children. The boys have taken a real interest in the group and express how they enjoy it."
Myrna Wagenaar, Success Coach
“I was able to complete 10 weeks with a complete Boys Council and Girls Circle groups. The kids loved it. They did not want to stop, even those youth who were resistant in the beginning were asking me to please keep it going. I completed the groups on the 17th and will start another set of groups when school is out for the summer. They all stated that they loved talking about issues that they are dealing with in their own language. The boys completed a skit on resistance to gang initiation and that was fantastic!! They talked about how hard it is to resist when money, sex, and drugs are promised to you. Both groups discussed a lot of topics that were specific to them such as being in an out of home placement and how this causes them to h ave issues that other kids their age do not have.
There was one youth struggling with a friend's drug use and fear that he will die. He took information back to his friend that he learned in group and convinced him to go into treatment. It was so worth my time doing these groups and I can't wait
to run them again. I was very pleased with the efforts of the youth
and particularly the agency themselves. They allowed me to run the groups at their agency and provided staff to stay late and lock up after. This group just proved to me how badly KY foster youth need this type of program. The kids were so excited that it wasn't a 'typical' group that they have been exposed to in the past.
The most resistant youth left on the last day saying 'This was fun!'"
Sharon Salyers, Scioto County Juvenile Court
"I think the most important aspect of this program is that is has provided an outlet for our boys to share their thoughts and feelings, to learn about and support each other, and to understand that they are not alone in this world. They truly enjoyed our time together, looked forward to it each week, and were very sad when the sessions came to an end."
Graciella Drew, Director of Restorative Practices, Hamstead Hill Academy, Baltimore, MD
||What Boys Say About The Council
Here are responses from boys,
9-15 years old, when asked about their experiences with The Council groups at their school:
"It is good to know that you are not alone. That people have the same feelings as you."
"I thought council was pretty cool. I would do it again."
"Some discussion topics were personal but I liked that we didn’t have to always share."
"We were not teased about saying things in the circle."
“I stopped getting detention.”
“I like that I was doing better in class.”
“That you could chill and talk about serious topics.”
“I’ve become a better person.”
“That if someone gets bullied I will step in and break it up.”
Girls Circle Facilitator Testimonials
“Girls Circle Facilitator Training is the most practical and useful training I have attended. The trainers were extremely knowledgeable in both facilitation and working with adolescent girls. After attending the training I was able to implement the Circle program and have received enthusiastic feedback from the girls who have participated in the group. The training provided concrete tools for facilitating Circles as well as thoughtful ideas and discussion for working with girls. I would recommend this training to anyone who works with girls in a group setting.”
Anne Brubacher, MSW, Female Alternative Sentence Coordinator, Boulder County Community Justice Services
"We have been facilitating two girls groups for several weeks now and just finished our first appreciation groups. I wanted to let you know what a remarkable experience it has been. I have seen such amazing growth in my group members, so have other school staff and the word of girls circle is now spreading through Chicago Public Schools! I have been trained in many therapeutic modalities and done many groups and I wanted to let you know this program has really stood out. There have been several moments during this process, after different group sessions, where me and Dawn are left with a feeling that we have bared witness to something so special, almost spiritual occurring. I hope to be able to continue this work next year, right now I am working under a one year grant but I am working to keep it in the school.
Rebecca Davis, MSW, Orr High School, Chicago
"Creating a Girls Circle in Cancun, Mexico has been an experience which has given a new dimension to my life. In a country where women are expected to be strong while remaining within very firm, long-established roles, it has been a joy to work with a new generation of girls, who are courageous enough to take an honest look at what being a girl these days means and who are ready to speak their minds and be heard.
I was very fortunate to attend the Girls Circle Initial Training. The facilitators provided us with lots of useful information, and I got a first-hand experience of how a girl might feel by taking part of a Girls Circle group. I learned a lot and met people who, like me, share the goal of helping girls be better prepared for life. The program curricula are well organized, and all the areas of a person’s development are covered."
- Alejandra Monroy, Cancun, Mexico. (Pictured above: group agreements from Alejandra's Girls Circle)
"I am excited that mental health providers across our network have been trained and are implementing Girls Circle. The addition of the Girls Circle Groups filled a gap in the prevention services available to Lorain County Students and has had a tremendously positive impact on many of the girls who participate."
Kathleen Kern, Ph.D.,
Director of Child & Adolescent Srvcs.,
Lorain County Board of Mental Health
"The program in itself has made a tremendous difference in the relationships our girls are having. Our first couple of weeks into the program, our girls were constantly at each other's throats. Whenever one girl would voice her opinion, other girls would pipe in with rude and opposing remarks. They were always trying to put out themselves as the best with the only opinion and downgraded the others. After a few weeks with much work on respect for one another, they started really listening to the other girls talk. It finally started to dawn on them that they don't have to necessarily like the other girls but respect them. They realized their stories were similar and they all do have things in common. Read more of this testimonial.
Terri Green, Youth Leader, Miami Valley Juvenile Rehabilitation Center
"We invited 5 mother-daughter pairs to our [Mother-Daughter Circle] and ended up with 2 pairs completing the entire curriculum. Those 2 pairs were very positive about their experiences and did not want the circle to end. One mother commented that she has become less judgemental, allowing her daughter to express herself more thru words." Read more of this testimonial.
Anela Segreti, M.A., Therapeutic Foster Home Program Coordinator, Hale 'Opio Kaua'i, Inc.
"I have found the Facilitator Training Manual to be an incredible asset in initiating and running groups. I have run various group exercises in school and camp settings. In my experience middle school age kids can be challenging to work with. They are not exactly running to an adult to discuss "issues." The group exercises have allowed me to get my foot in the door and talk about issues that are sometimes off limits for an adult. I have been working as a clinical social worker for seventeen years. I received post graduate training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. The girls circle training and theme kits is the first exposure I have had to really getting a strong handle on running groups and feeling confident in doing so. The theme packets have also spurred my own creativity in thinking up new ways to run and develop groups. I personally feel more confident in attempting to expand my own professional skills and career and for this I am profoundly grateful."
Amy Burzinski, LCSW
“I was unable to attend a facilitator training, but I purchased the Training Manual and Activity Guides. In the training manual so many issues that might arise are covered in addition to clear and professional ways to deal with each issue. The activity guides provide me with everything I need to plan each meeting, and even offer some choices so the activities can be tailored to my interests, and the age and makeup of the group. I’ve felt very prepared as I begin each group, and I feel grateful to be able to draw from the best of all Beth and Giovanna's experience and knowledge. The Girls Circle is a treasure to offer girls."
Robin Setchko, Girls' Circle Group Leader, Santa Rosa, CA
"I ran one group of nine fourth-graders for 12 weeks, using two curriculums: Friendship and Being A Girl. I had the pleasure of running Girls Circle in my school which allowed for me to see the girls change over the course of group, not only in our group sessions, but also I got to observe them in lunch, at recess, in class and in the hallways. Two girls in particular stood out, one initially so unsure of herself she wouldn't speak in group, she would only giggle and hide her face, she had a history of being "mean" to others girls out of being unsure how to relate to them. The other girl had only one self reported friend which was a boy in her class that lived on her street. By the end of group, not only were both the girls more expressive, self confident and proud of who they were in group, but i got to see this transformation outside of group. I watched as they no longer sat by themselves at lunch, and no longer played by themselves at recess, but i saw other girls seek them out as well, what a concrete example of how an increase in self esteem and self worth can benefit a young women! I will certainly continue running girls circles in my school and hopefully one day in our outpatient office as well!"
Heather Higham, School Counselor, Wiley MS NHUH Schools, University Heights, OH
Here's what Heather heard from teachers:
"I cant believe how she is interacting in class with other students...and on the field trip...she sat with other girls!"
What Heather heard from girls:
"Can you run a girls circle next year too?"
"I dont want it to end, can we do it over the summer?"
"We should start our own girls circle."
"The program in itself has made a tremendous difference in the relationships our girls are having. Our first couple of weeks into the program, our girls were constantly at each other's throats. Whenever one girl would voice her opinion, other girls would pipe in with rude and opposing remarks. They were always trying to put out themselves as the best with the only opinion and downgraded the others. After a few weeks with much work on respect for one another, they started really listening to the other girls talk. It finally started to dawn on them that they don't have to necessarily like the other girls but respect them. They realized their stories were similar and they all do have things in common. The next thing we knew, they were supporting one another, even outside of Girls Circle. They still have their problems, but I believe the relationships they are building are making it easier to work out their differences in a more positive manner.
As for myself, the training made me realize I need to sit back a little more as a facilitator. I realized I wasn't asking open-ended questions. Our discussions are more involved. The training has led us to where the girls are actually the ones leading the discussions. The listening exercises we learned in our training have also enhanced our program. I feel that I tend to pay more attention to everyone now and the girls are doing likewise. They have all been working on their active listening skills. Another thing that really stuck in my head were the icebreakers. When we were first starting out our program we really didn't emphasize the icebreaker, after the fun and relaxed feelings that the icebreaker gave us in our training we realized how important it really is. Not only do the girls enjoy the icebreaker, they learn more about each other in the process. The last thing I really enjoyed was when we all had to get together in small groups and practice on holding lively discussions. It really made you realize how difficult it can be to get groups talking and the importance of having questions ready that you might need to get the ball rolling in a discussion. Things aren't always going to go real smooth and as a facilitator you need to realize that and be able to be flexible. Be prepared to ask questions both general and personal.
I cannot say enough good things about your program and training. It has made a difference in our girls’ lives, my work experience and it has also traveled into my own life. Girls Circle is a learning experience for everyone involved. The difference I am seeing in the girls makes this all worth while. I have girls who in the beginning of the programs could not find one thing about themselves that they enjoyed. Now they really do like themselves. I wish every girl could gain the experience that Girls' Circle gives to these young minds. Thank you again for all you have done!”
Terri Green, Youth Leader, Miami Valley Juvenile Rehabilitation Center
"The group of girls that appeared to benefit the most from the GC groups were my 7th grade girls. Two of the girls in particular were able to socialize more with their peers, and they became more assertive and happy at the school. At the end of the group, one of those girls talked about how she used to be afraid of one of the other girls in the group, but after participating in GC, she felt as though they were friends. The other girl in this group who appeared to benefit the most, was not very vocal in the group, but her guidance counselor reported that as the year progressed she became more engaged in her classes. My 6th and 8th graders were all very sad to see the groups end. Although the number of participants dwindled towards the end of the school year, the girls that remained in the group were very involved and invested in the content of each of the group's session. Overall, I feel that the GC groups were a success at Longfellow Middle School, and I think it would be very beneficial to continue running GC groups there in the future."
Taylor Lane, School Based Therapist, Bellefaire JCB, Elyria, OH
"I have been to many, many trainings over the years, but I have yet to attend one that was as well organized, dynamic, and inspiring as the training in Columbus. If someone asked me to succinctly describe what I experienced I would simply say, commitment! Commitment on the part of the trainers to make our experience as educational and inspiring as possible; commitment on the part of the trainees to carry forward to others the beauty, the knowledge and the joy that we all shared together.
The venue was excellent — I mean who can argue with such a well-designed building that provided everything from a fireplace and a good coffee shop to spacious, warm and well-equipped rooms. The trainers were outstanding — effective, knowledgeable, and kind!
I would only suggest handing out a written agenda (in addition to the one on the screen) the first hour we meet for those of us with Type A personalities! That is such a minor issue but the only suggestion I can make.
Thank you again…"
~Ann Schumacher, Detroit, Michigan
“The Girls Circle training was among the best trainings I have attended. As a mediator and practitioner who trains and practices in many areas of conflict resolution, including mediation, restorative practices, and circles, I found this training to be exemplary! I can be a harsh critic of trainings but this one deserves only high praise! The trainers were incredibly knowledgeable and held our attention the entire time. The training topics and exercises were varied and well paced to maximize learning and understanding. The curricula are well written and provide a great ongoing tool to use in practice. Even though I had some experience in circles, having begun facilitating some girls circles over the past year, I believe I will be a much better practitioner after this training. Thank you for a terrific experience! I will recommend this training to our facilitators and wish that they all could attend a future training.”
~Susan Butterwick, Wayne Mediation Center,
“The Girls Circle Facilitator Training was an excellent resource in helping our new programs create gender responsive and strengths-based forums for girls to discuss issues impacting their lives. Many of our staff had little or no experience running groups and the training provided an excellent opportunity for them to learn a structured yet flexible format for running successful groups. The day spent focusing on challenging behaviors that may arise during the groups eased anxiety and gave staff confidence in handling group dynamics. The instructors' friendly, focused and interactive training created a terrific environment to learn new and important skills. We are really looking forward to beginning Girls' Circle in our community!!!”
~St. Francis Home for Children Girls Alternative to Detention (ADP) and Center for Assessment, Respite, and Enrichment (CARE) Programs, New Haven, CT
“While taking the Girls Circle Facilitator Training, I learned new skills to facilitate groups, lead meetings and youth interventions. The training develops knowledge about work with girls. Additionally, I have seen our staff apply the training information in a variety of settings with males and females. The training built confidence by practical application and constant role modeling by Giovanna. The facilitator training was one of my best training investments in my career. Girls Circle Facilitator Training equals the planting of a seed, and then working with the curriculum nourishes one’s creativity with a group.....an investment that grows!”
Ken Mathers, Community Justice Officer, Deschutes County Juvenile Community Justice
"The facilitator training for Girls Circle is the best two days I have spent in the search for just the right tools to work with girls. Through the course of building regional programs and opportunities for our girls, I found Girls Circle to be the program that opened the gate. We are currently building our Circles through regional juvenile justice systems, and the skills learned through Girls Circle training will form the center for respectful and effective communication with girls in every program we develop. Thank you, Beth and Giovanna, for this great opportunity."
Director: Tehama County Alliance for Women and Girls
Community Organizer: Girls Inc. of the Northern Sacramento Valley
“From the minute I met Giovanna, I knew there was something special about the woman and the program she was training us on. My mind was spinning with all the possibilities when I left the training in November, 2003. My co-worker and I started right in when we got back; compiling a list of girls who would benefit from the program. Needless to say, the list was much longer than we new facilitators could handle. We signed up with the Girls Circle Association's research so we could get the 10-week curriculum (we had no money to get started). We then were able to access some local Youth Investment money. The rest is history. I have facilitated several Groups, and consistently hear the same feedback from the girls. They want more groups, and want to know if they can bring a friend. The need for groups has far out weighed the time I have available to facilitate. This last spring, Giovanna and Paula Schaffer were able to come out and do a two-day training in Eastern Oregon. We had a full house. Every survey received had nothing but positive feedback for the facilitators and the program. We are so excited in Eastern Oregon to have this program; we are beginning to plan a follow up training for this next spring. I cannot say enough good things about Giovanna, Beth and the program. Give it a try you will not be sorry, and neither will the girls you work with.”
Kim Wilson-Noisey, Umatilla County Youth Services, Pendleton, Oregon
"We attended the training in March 2010 in Glenwood Springs, CO. Last summer I presented your program to many community organizations and businesses in Lakewood in an effort to raise money to fund our Girls Circle groups. I was able to raise over $6,000.00 as well as get the word out about your great program. We have a total of 18 girls (10 at Dunstan MS and 8 at Creighton MS) that have attended Girls Circle every week for the 2010/2011 school year. As a result of your program, we believe all 18 girls have made very positive growth and changes within themselves this year and are more prepared to enter high school in the fall. On May 18th we will be hosting a Thank You Reception for all those community members and businesses that financially supported us. We have also invited the Lakewood Mayor, City Council members, Chief of Police, School Board Members, important people within Jefferson County School District, all middle school counselors and principals and all of the girls’ parents. At this reception the girls will be sharing how your program has changed them and what they got out of the experience. We have also invited the parents to speak about the change they have seen in their daughters. As facilitators we will be sharing what Girls Circle is and why it is important to get it into other schools in the area.
At the reception we will show a slide show of the activities we have done with the girls last summer and during the school year. One event we did was bringing the girls to a local Tea Shop that hosted a tea ceremony for the girls when we were on that lesson. We also brought the girls to an upscale restaurant for dinner that required them to dress and act appropriately. They were beautiful! The reception will be covered by our local city news channel as well as our local newspaper.
As an SRO I knew that I needed to do something to be proactive in the lives of middle school girls but didn’t know how. After finding your website, finding the two best co-facilitators (they really do all the work at the groups), attending training and starting the groups; I knew the answer was Girls Circle. Thank you for all that you do for young girls. My future goal is to host training in the area so that many more girls get the opportunity to go through Girls Circle."
Cindy Punt, Lakewood Police Department, Lakewood, CO
“Girls Circle Facilitator Training provided thorough and expert training in all aspects of the coordination of girls groups. The content was applicable and relevant cross-culturally. The role-plays were very helpful for problem solving and seeing the process unfold. I would highly recommend it – and do!”
Sherry Bezanson, Girl Power, Kamloops British Columbia
“What helped me most with my Girls Circle facilitating was experiencing Circle myself. The training put us back in the shoes of our teenaged counterparts. I learned about myself and about my colleagues through the experience of Circle. Seeing it in action, being a part of it – the experience proved to me that the Girls Circle model and curriculum would work with my girls. It did! Girls Circle was my most popular program last school year.”
Annie Luebke. Program Outreach Coordinator, Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
"Girls Circle Facilitators Training was on of the best training I have ever attended. The information was well presented and the excitement was at an all time high. I enjoyed hand on learning experience and can know first hand the way our youth feel about expressing themselves and sharing personal experiences with strangers. The fun part was watching the group bond and grow and come together as a group. I would recommend this training to anyone who works with youth.”
Anna Davis, Program Coordinator, East Akron Community House, Akron, Ohio
"Our agency, Family Connections El Dorado, attended a Girls Circle training hosted by the program diretor for the Placer County Community Challenge Grant to reduce teen pregnancy. We also have a Community Challenge Grant, and we have been using Girls Circle in our school-based prevention education. In the last two years we have reached more than two hundred students a year using your format. The faciltators, parents, schools and especially the girls love this program. Thanks so much for your continuing effort in this area. We will be sending more staff to the up-coming trainings."
Gaye Newport, Program Director Family Connections - El Dorado, Placerville, CA
"We actually had an informal group organized before we were trained and when we came back and implemented the model we told the girls that we were just going to try it. They loved it and said it made them feel safe to share their feelings. One of our greatest successes was one day when they showed up with a girl we had never met before to the group. They said she was planning on going AWOL from the facility, but they told her to come to group instead. She has been in the group four rotations (4 week sessions) now. If you believe in girls, believe in the power of their thoughts and their ability to work through and problem solve their issues, then you will love Girls Circle because it empowers them to look at, identify, and make decisions in their own lives based on their terms. The beauty of Girls Circle is that the process allows the girls to discover the answers themselves to questions that some of them have been struggling with for many, many years."
Kristin Bradfield, Founder,
Growth Improvement for Female Teens, GIFT,
Phoenix Chapter Director of the Younger Women's Task Force
"We invited 5 mother-daughter pairs to our [Mother-Daughter Circle] and ended up with 2 pairs completing the entire curriculum. Those 2 pairs were very positive about their experiences and did not want the circle to end. One mother commented that she has become less judgemental, allowing her daughter to express herself more thru words. She liked the ability to share/express thoughts and feelings with confidentiality. She learned how to listen, use open ended questions and not be judgemental. She thanked Arleen and I for giving her and her daughter a fresh new start at their mother daughter relationship.
The daughter in this relationship liked that their relationship grew stronger, and that the circle was like a family. She learned to listen, not blow-up and to be safe when mad, dealing with her anger towards her mom. She's noticed that she is more open to listening to her mom.
The second mother daughter pair learned how to listen to each other and communicate. The mother learned how to be a mother and not just a friend. The daughter liked that she and her mother found their way back to one another. That she could communicate with her."
Anela Segreti, M.A., Therapeutic Foster Home Program Coordinator, Hale 'Opio Kaua'i, Inc.