Help Empower a Young Girl Today!

by Community Bridges Inc.

The Community Bridges program year has reached its halfway point.  Our goal is to ensure the best quality programming for our girls who are mostly first-generation immigrants.  This allows for us to focus on the whole girl academically, physically, and socially to provide her the skills, competencies and knowledge to navigate her way through school and life.   Additionally, we have strengthened our family engagement model by developing our Family Institute which provides workshops and outreach for the parents/guardians of our girls to ensure that skills that are being taught in the program are being reinforced positively in the home environment.  Below are a few samples of current numbers of children served and success stories.

Number of girls currently being served in FY 13:  129

Number of families currently being served in FY 13: 110

Sample of Girls Activities Exploring identity, self-esteem, self-advocacy, leadership, goal-setting and conflict resolution in FY 13:

 Elementary: 

  1. Curriculum: What is a leader? The girls worked to come up with an age appropriate definition of this word and the ramifications of this definition.
  2. Curriculum: The Tongue-We also had to do a lesson on the smallest most powerful part of the human body. Within this we covered, gossip & slander and tied it into the qualities of a leader.
  3. Activities: Chalk drawings; Eye Contact Activity; Pride Lines- girls were given a slip of paper that sparks thoughts regarding an accomplishment – they must then finish the sentence; Movie (The Third Monday in October) a docu-style film that follows 4 candidates in their quest for SGA president.

 Middle: 

  1. Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships: Identifying Values in Relationships Activity—there are three signs across the room (AGREE, DISAGREE, NEUTRAL) as a spectrum. Girls are given a list of values in a relationship (e.g. “Relationships should be free of conflict, Physical violence in relationships is pretty normal. If my partner apologizes, things will work out okay.”) After each statement, girls go stand next to sign they most associate with. Debrief after each question with a few volunteers—Why do you feel that way, What makes you believe in that value? Outcome: HEALTHY YOUNG WOMEN—girls will utilize their increased self esteem to make informed choices on how they will treat or let others treat them.
  2. Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships Flip Chart—girls were put into pairs and given the roles of parents of teenage girls that just started dating. They had to split the paper into Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Relationships and think as a team about what qualities they would want for their daughters in a relationship and what qualities they would want their daughters to avoid. Each team then presented their flipcharts to the rest of the groups and debriefed with questions, clarifications, and comments on each presentation. Outcome: HEALTHY YOUNG WOMEN—girls will utilize their increased self esteem to make informed choices on how they will treat or let others treat them.
  3. Part 1 of 2 (continued in February): Bullying and Girl on girl crime in context of the movie “Mean Girls”: Girls take a “Bullying Quiz” and then watch the movie “Mean Girls” specifically paying attention to instances mentioned in their quizzes of bullying and girls being mean to other girls.

 

High School:

  1. Team Building: Due to the schedule changes this month from Holidays and Final Exams, the number of times we met was reduced considerably. However, we took the time to have team building days in which the participants engaged in various team challenges and games that encouraged teamwork and problem solving; as well as physical activity. The days were a HUGE success the increase in unity was evident.
  2. SMART GOALS: With the start of the New Year and of a new semester, we thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss what SMART Goals are with the girls and practice as a group creating them. A part of me was very amazed at how some participants were not familiar with this concept but it allowed for great discussion and awareness to the importance of goals and plans. The participants later completed a Dear Me” letter in which they wrote letter to each other spelling out a goal that they hoped to accomplish by the end of this school year. I am saving the letters and will distribute it back to them on the last day of program.
  3. In collaboration with the Family Institute Manager we held a Parent FAFSA Workshop in January. Montgomery College Takoma Park was very helpful in providing both the space and the information to conduct the workshop. Sadly, inclement weather affected the event and only two families came. However, both families found the information incredibly helpful and we were given extra materials that I could later provide the students who could not make it.

Family Institute:

  1. The topic for the Parent Workshop was: “Building Trust-Strengthening Families”. The goal was to provide practical strategies and feasible activities to foster trust among family members. Also, for parents to share and learn from each other what already works well for them, promoting in this manner, a support network among them.  
  2. The Parent Workshop theme was: “Effective Strategies to Communicate with Child(ren)”. The goal was to provide concrete and practical strategies and have parents share what already works well for them, contributing to establish a support network among themselves.
  3. The goal for the second Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting was to receive input from PAC members of how to best reach out and engage other families.

 

 

Sample Success Stories (October-January):

 

  1. A middle school participant from Silver Spring International Middle School spoke as an advocate of Community Bridges at the County Executives Budget Forum, asking the Executive to keep CB in the budget because through the program she has learned a lot of about her identity which has helped to raise her self-esteem and allowed her to stand in front of a room of over 100 people to advocate for herself.
  2. Participants that had to leave the program because of sports obligations have rejoined the group showing how much the girls really do enjoy Jump Start.
  3. During the month of January, we have been averaging an 85-90% attendance rate amongst all groups.
  4. Established the Lunch Bunch where program managers of Community Bridges pop up at the schools we serve during lunch to have community-building and down-time with the girls to continue provide trust and understanding of things going on outside of program time.
  5. Community Bridges has made it a tradition to periodically do the Human Web at closing of program; this activity requires the students to toss a ball of yarn to each other and tell that person a positive affirmation. At the end all the girls have a web of yarn that represents how they as a group are connected and supportive of one another. One of our girls threw the ball of yarn to our high school program manager and thanked her, because she said that the program manager had motivated her and pushed her to apply to college when she initially had no thoughts about going.
  6. A few high school seniors have communicated to that they had been accepted to local colleges and universities.   

Links:

Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Community Bridges 2012-2013 program year kicked off on Monday, October 8th, 2012.  This is our 15th year of providing out-of-school time programing designed to empower diverse girls to become exceptional students, positive leaders, and healthy young women.  We look forward to making this year even stronger and more exciting and fulfilling for our participants and families!

The Community Bridges staff grew over the summer as we welcomed our new Director of Programs Allison Jones, Elementary School Program Manager Sia Boima, and Middle School Program Manager Gillian Caplan. We have a strong program team going into this new year. In addition, long time program managers Crystal Adegbola and Lauren Wetherell transitioned to Youth Development Consultants and continue to add their 8 combined years of experience to the program team.

In early August, all incoming staff members and one program assistant intern attended the Advancing Youth Development training. It is a 30 hour training for frontline workers provided by DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation. It trains participants in the principles and best practices of positive youth development.

This year our dedicated staff and volunteers work with more than 150 girls at 11 Montgomery County Public Schools.

  • Oak View Elementary School
  • Broad Acres Elementary School
  • Kemp Mill Elementary School
  • Rolling Terrace Elementary School
  • A. Mario Loiederman Middle School
  • Takoma Park Middle School
  • Silver Spring International Middle School
  • White Oak Middle School
  • Eastern Middle School
  • Montgomery Blair High School
  • Springbrook High School

For the 2012-2013 school year we have six overaching goals we will try to achieve with our participants.  We want our girls to demonstrate:

  • Pride in Identity
  • Confidence in Self
  • Conflict Resolution Skills
  • Goal Setting
  • Positive Leadership
  • Advocacy

We hope to achieve these goals through a combined approached with the principles of social work theory, youth development, and popular education. We value our participants’ lived experiences, expose them to new experiences and ideas, and inspire them to become advocates for positive change in their communities.

 


Field Trip to Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Field Trip to Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Community Bridges Inc.

Location: Silver Spring, MD - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.communitybridges-md.org
Community Bridges Inc.
Project Leader:
Cynthia James
Executive Director
Silver Spring, MD United States

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