“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.”
– Terri Green, Youth Leader, Miami Valley Juvenile Rehabilitation Center
Girls Circle is the FIRST gender-responsive program in the country to demonstrate effectiveness in reducing delinquency for girls... Now listed on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs.
The Girls Circle model, a structured support group for girls* and youth who identify with female development from 9-18 years, integrates relational theory, resiliency practices, and skills training in a specific format designed to increase positive connection, personal and collective strengths, and competence in girls.
It aims to counteract social and interpersonal forces that impede girls’ growth and development by promoting an emotionally safe setting and structure within which girls can develop caring relationships and use authentic voices.
The Girls Circle does not aim to provide advice, but encourages girls to share experiences that are helpful to one another. To participate, girls need only have the desire, make a commitment to attend the meetings, and agree to follow the circle guidelines, i.e. respect, no put-downs or interruptions, offer experiences - not advice, keep the focus on oneself, and keep what’s said in the group private. Girls are free to share at their own pace.
Girls Circle Format
The Girls Circle Activity Guides are designed to help you, as a facilitator, set a safe, creative environment and provide weeks of age-appropriate themes and activities. Girls Circles are most often held weekly for 1 1/2 to two hours, in-person or online. Each week as the facilitator, you lead your group of girls through a format that includes each youth taking turns talking and listening to one another respectfully about their concerns and interests. The circle participants express themselves further through creative or focused activities such as role playing, drama, journaling, media, murals, poetry, drama, movement, drawing, collage, clay, visualization and imagery, and so on. Gender-responsive themes and topics are introduced which relate to the girls’ lives, such as being a girl, trusting ourselves, friendships, body image, goals, sexuality, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, competition, social media, and decision-making.
Giving Voice to Feelings
When girls voice their ideas and opinions in a safe environment, it strengthens their confidence and self-esteem and encourages them to express themselves more fully and critically think through their behavior and choices. By examining cultural expectations in a safe and supportive setting, girls gain greater awareness of their options and strengthen their ability to make choices that are consistent with their values, interests, and talents.
“What helped me most with my Girls Circle facilitating was experiencing Circle for myself. I learned about myself and about my colleagues through the experience of Circle.”
– Annie Luebke. Program Outreach Coordinator, Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
Enhancing Current Programs
The Girls Circle format is applied to programs in areas such as schools, peer leadership, health education, juvenile justice, economic literacy, outdoor adventure, athletics, school advisory groups, pregnancy prevention, boys and girls clubs, scouting groups, gang-prevention, and substance abuse prevention in such settings as schools, agencies, group homes, parish halls, clinics, and homes. In this way, the Girls Circle provides the opportunity for authentic relationships within a context of a girl’s own setting and community.
The model responds to recommendations from national organizations, including the National Council on Research for Women, the Girl Scout Research Institute Report, United Way of the Bay Area, and the OJJDP that have pointed to the need for gender-relevant girls’ programs that allow girls to voice their experiences, develop positive connections, and gain skills to pursue meaningful goals in education, careers, and relationships.