Happy Holidays! As we take the time to reflect on all of our accomplishments this 2013-2014 school year, we want to extend our sincerest thank you to the GlobalGiving community for all of the support over the years.
We are happy to share an update on our 2013-2014 school year. This school year thus far we have served 28 girls - 75% are Latina, 11% are Asian-Indian, 11% are African American and 3% Pacific-Islander.
Our after-school program participants continue to prioritize homework. With the support of our dedicated staff and community volunteers, including local high-achieving high-school female students, the girls work through their homework assignments and projects before moving on to other activities. Staff, volunteers and the girls, have created an environment of learning where everyone works together in making sure everyone succeeds.
Once homework is complete, girls engage in educational and skill-building activities. To name a couple examples, on Monday afternoons, music teachers Catherine and Kari lead the music workshop. Girls are introduced to new songs, they learn basic guitar notes and they lead each other by introducing songs they perform. Recently girls performed Christmas carols for their parents and families at our Holiday Celebration, including one of their favorite songs Mary Did You Know?
On Tuesday afternoons, girls participate in Fresh Fest, a class lead by our local partner Collective Roots, that incorporates cooking in conjunction with a nutrition lesson. It’s great to see girls prepare and try food like humus for the first time and say, “Wow, I actually like this!”
As girls continue to push themselves to earn the school grades they work so hard to achieve, to try new activities and to support each other in their journeys, we are grateful to be able to witness first-hand the growth of each of the girls we serve.
Our 2013 Summer Session was lively, varied, and, in short, action-packed! Thirty-two girls, 20 volunteers and interns, and 3 staff members joined together to create a rich variety of hands-on activities and workshops. 91% of the girls are Latina, 3% are African-American and 6% are Asian-Indian.
This year’s summer theme was ‘Self-Development.’ Through it, the girls reflected-upon and explored their self-awareness, personal potential, and identity.
In the first week, girls participated in community-building exercises. Our aim was to establish an atmosphere of trust in which girls could navigate the influences that affect self-development.There’s a lot of pressure on girls regarding ‘beauty’ and physical appearance, and such pressures can make it difficult for girls to find their own authentic values. To address this, the girls analyzed their own definitions of ‘beauty’ and where these ideas come from in society. They reflected on their discoveries through group discussions, journal entries, and a variety of artistic creations, from collages to poetry. The girls also defined the expectations they have for themselves and others. One popular exercise involved creation of ‘Goal Boards,’ where each girl wrote-up her own goals and added them to a community display, meant to illustrate how bettering ourselves involves supporting others.
Field Trips Every Monday and Wednesday morning, the girls took swimming lessons at the local YMCA. They also went on field trips to three different locations this summer: The Chabot Space and Science Center, the Monterey Aquarium, and the San Francisco Exploratorium.
Workshops Lead by Women Professionals Seventeen professional women lead a variety of activities introducing their careers and vocations. Through these high-achieving mentors, our young participants caught a glimpse of many different career options and, more importantly, saw that women are leaders within them. Workshops covered anything from poetry, to renewable energy, journalism, and engineering.
Family Night During our festive family night, each group of girls presented their various artistic, poetic, and other creations with their age-graded summer group. The youngest ‘American Girls,’ in grades K – 2, sang a short song they wrote. The ‘Eaglettes,’ girls in grades 3rd – 5th, took turns reading their goals from their ‘Goal Board’ outlining their aspirations. The ‘Cheetah Girls,’ girls in grades 6th – 8th, read their ‘Just Because’ poems – poems on debunking stereotypes imposed on them. It was most rewarding to witness the pride with which parents saw their daughters take the stage. Our Family Nights let girls see how much their community believes in them – and we don’t think that there’s a better way to bolster girls’ self-confidence.
Our goal was for our participants to leave the summer program with a better understanding of themselves, and with useful tools for self-discovery. Judging by the responses which we saw in the girls over the course of Summer Session 2013, we believe that, with the help of our parents, volunteers, and interns, we succeeded in that aim.
SUMMER IS FUN-TIME -- AND LEARNING-TIME!
We're busy organizing our 7th consecutive Summer Session 2013, and getting ready to welcome dozens of full-time participants and their families for the late June thru early-August 6-week Session. Yes, we'll emphasize fitness, the arts, games, the outdoors, field-trips, and fun -- but academics-related learning continues.
Experience tells us that the hour after lunch is when even the most active girls want to lay low for awhile and do more contemplative activities. Accordingly, Summer Session girls will have 'Reading-time' during this period, and can choose between take-turns group reading sessions or individual reading. Our older 'Nia Project' girls have developed their own approach to group readings-and-discussion. We offer prizes, support, and positive feedback to encourage our young readers. Field trips to the public library are frequent during Summer Session, for example. Reading-time is typically followed by group indoor quantitative reasoning games like 'Minute to Win-It,' and 'Wheel of Fortune.' Stay tuned for notice of our End-Of-Summer Celebration!
School Year 2012-2013 ended strongly, and we are especially proud of the progress which several formerly under-performing girls made with English Literacy. Just one success story this year is “Jasmine (names are changed or withheld as part of our safety policy).” Her Mexican immigrant grandmother was raising her but, with only an elementary-school education, knew that she couldn’t help Jasmine’s flagging English literacy – 2 years below grade-level (close collaboration with parents is key to our approach to academic support). We convened family, classroom teachers and our tutors early in the School Year to develop a plan for Jasmine who, nine months later, is now ‘proficient’ at her grade level. Wow. Congratulations to you and to your grandmother, Jasmine!
While we're at it, thanks again to GlobalGiving and to all of our donors. We believe that we've provided a good return on your investment in terms of positive development for low-income girls over School Year 2012-2013, and we just can't do it without you!