Summer is a busy time at Community Bridges as we evaluate the successes of the past school year and plan for the upcoming year to ensure that the girls in our programs (from 4th grade through high school) are continuing to grow and learning the skills that will enable them to become leaders who plan for their future accomplishments.
Every week during the school year, the girls make strides and at the end of the year, our special activities demonstrate how much the girls have matured and learned to give back to the community. Highlights of our recent year-end activities include:
A Well Deserved and Successful Year End Retreat
On June 9th and 10th, 26 Community Bridges elementary, middle and high school girls attended our annual overnight retreat at the Lathrop E. Smith Center. These girls had maintained good attendance and had grades of C+ or higher. The girls spent the weekend playing games, competing in a scavenger hunt, enjoying ‘smores over a bonfire, and performing at an “Any Talent Talent Show”.
The weekend is a great opportunity for girls of different ages and from different schools to strengthen the ties they’ve built with each other at other Community Bridges events. This weekend is a highlight of the year that girls look forward to all year long.
GLOW! Girls Giving Back
On Saturday May 12, GLOW! girls (Community Bridges’ high-schoolers) dedicated their afternoon to feeding the homeless at McPherson Square in Washington, DC. GLOW! partnered with the Homeless Ministry of Sligo Adventist Church in Takoma Park . The girls made bagged lunches, including 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Then the girls traveled to McPherson Square to pass out the lunches. Within groups and with adults, the girls went around greeting the homeless. The girls felt very moved by the people and stories they heard. One tenth grader, expressed her despair when she realized that there were not enough lunches to feed all those in need at McPherson Square that day.
JumpStart Middle School Girls’ “Our True Colors Show”
On May 10 over 100 families and community members joined together at the Silver Spring Civic Center for Community Bridges' 2nd Annual Our True Colors Show. The idea for the annual show came from a Community Bridges’ middle schooler last year who was determined to address the amount of racism, sexism, bullying and focus on outer beauty she saw around her. For several weeks prior to the show, Community Bridges’ middle schoolers worked on various projects, including a PSA about teen pregnancy, a magazine on inner beauty, a step routine on bullying, and a play on cyber bullying. The evening culminated in a fashion show, where the girls wore clothing representative of their cultures and inner beauty. Each girl stopped at the microphone at the end of the "catwalk" to share her "I'm beautiful because" statement.
JumpStart Elementary School Girls Community Service
On May 29 Community Bridges dropped off 40 bagged breakfasts lovingly prepared for the residents of the Home Builders Care Assessment Center (HBCAC), a men’s emergency shelter managed by the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH). Twelve girls from Rolling Terrace Elementary decorated brown bags with encouraging messages and then helped to stuff them with healthy breakfast foods. The project made quite an impact on the girls, who shared their thoughts that it is "good we can help make sure they have something good to eat for breakfast" and "make them smile.”
Learning at the Smithsonian FolkLife Festival
On June 27, 20 elementary, middle and high school girls attended a field trip to DC to enjoy the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The girls visited the booths of several universities from across the country, learning about such topics as advances in disability accommodations, green living, sustainable agriculture, and tsunami-proof engineering. They also saw the AIDS quilt and watched hula and mariachi performances.
This March in honor of Women's History Month, JumpStart! Middle School focused on women's rights and women leaders. The girls watched the movie Iron Jawed Angels with Hilary Swank, a film about the women's suffrage movement in the US in the early 1900s. It tells the story of Alice Paul, a champion for women's voting rights. After seeing the movie, 30 middle school girls attended field trips to the Sewall Belmont House Museum in Washington, D.C. The house was the headquarters for the National Women’s Party. The girls learned about the female leaders and the ways they protested inequality, especially by using banners. Girls then had the opportunity to make their own banners for things they want to change in their communities now. Many girls shared that they were surprised by all that women had to go through to gain equal rights. It was a great trip!
In School Programs Are off to a Great Start
Programs, which began the first week of October, are in full swing! Through partnerships with eleven schools within Montgomery County, Community Bridges provides out-of-school time activities to 150 girls and their families. Community Bridges also hosted two open houses for families to meet the program managers and learn about the programs. More than 50 families attended. Staff also gathered needs assessments from parents in order to begin planning this fall’s Family Roundtables. At each Roundtable, families will engage in discussion of topics they have identified as relevant, such as communicating with their daughters about dating and intimacy, knowing who their daughters’ friends are, and advocating for their daughters’ education within the Montgomery County Public Schools.
This year the girls in our program will focus on three themes: healthy sense of self, critical thinking, and positive leadership. Our Glow! High School Program will also focus on the fourth theme of college and career readiness.
Plans are also underway to host our 2nd Annual Art Show in December. During this event, girls will demonstrate what they’ve learned during the fall through various art forms. This year Community Bridges is partnering with community organizations that will bring in outside experts in various art forms, such as photography, dance, and theater. Working on these projects in groups allows the girls opportunities to develop such skills as goal setting, problem solving, conflict resolution, and positive leadership, and to build confidence in their abilities. After last year’s Art Show, many of the Community Bridges girls expressed the desire to work on longer-term projects, so changes in this year’s show preparation made sure we delivered on this request. As the date gets closer we will send invitations to the Art Show, and we hope you will join us for this exciting evening with the girls and their families.
Field Trips that Inspires Girls to Work Hard and Reach for the Stars
Two Memorable Trips to the White House
With cameras in hand, four Community Bridges girls watched President Obama exit Marine One on Sept. 14 as he returned to the White House from a trip to North Carolina. The trip was coordinated by Community Bridges Program Manager Lauren Wetherell working with Monique Dorsainvil, who works in the White House Office of Public Engagement and was previously an intern in the Office of the First Lady. In the weeks prior to the field trip, the girls were given a fact sheet on Marine One and Community Bridges staff lead a discussion on the president and his modes of transportation. As the helicopters approached on Sept. 14, the girls attempted to guess which helicopter the president was in, having learned that two were decoys. Smiles erupted when the girls realized they had guessed correctly.
The girls took the opportunity to ask Ms. Dorsainvil questions, including “What do you have to do to work at the White House?” and “When is the next election?” Standing in front of the White House, watching the president of the United States land, and making a connection with a woman who works for the Obama administration was quite a powerful experience for our Community Bridges girls, and an experience they won’t soon forget.
State Arrival Ceremony
Despite the cold and rainy weather, six Jump Start Middle School girls along with their program manager and attended the Korean State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn at the White House on Thursday, October 13, 2011. This trip was made possible by our contact at the White House Office of Public Engagement. Ms. Monique Dorsainvil. This was a great experience for our girls as they had an opportunity to hear both President Obama and President Lee Myung-Bak offer remarks on forging partnerships between the United States and South Korea.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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