leadership Archives - Alternatives For Girls

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AFG Hires 20 Young Women Through Grow Detroit’s Young Talent Program

Jul. 27 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

This summer, Alternatives For Girls (AFG) has hired 20 young women to work as Rise N’ Shine Youth Leaders as well as Peer Educators through Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT) program! GDYT is a city-wide summer job and training program that employs young adults between the ages of 14 and 24 for six weeks each summer. This summer, GDYT has matched over 8,000 young adults from Detroit with jobs all over the city!

The young women employed at AFG participate in weekly trainings, both with AFG and with the GDYT program, on topics such as conflict resolution, financial literacy and more. These topics help prepare them for issues they may face on the job, while also helping to improve and increase valuable employability skills, such as time management. “I’m pretty organized, but learning about time management has helped me with getting up and getting to work on time. I’ve learned I have to think about whether there will be traffic and if I should leave early that day,” shares Casey, 16, one of the young women working as a Peer Educator in AFG’s Outreach Department this summer.

Mikaela, also 16, is one of the young women from the GDYT program who is a Rise N’ Shine Youth Leader. Youth Leaders assist AFG staff in running the Prevention Department’s annual Rise N’ Shine summer camp. The camp, for girls between the ages of 4-14 living in Southwest Detroit, is designed to allow the participants to learn new skills, improve their literacy, and make new friends, all in a fun and safe environment.

This is Mikaela’s third summer as a Youth Leader, “I like to work with kids, so when I first heard about the job it sounded fun,” she says. A typical day for the Youth Leaders starts at 8am with breakfast. Working with AFG staff, the Youth Leaders help prepare and serve breakfast, check each camper in as they arrive, and then get the girls ready for their first workshop of the day.  Some of the workshops this year include dancing, STEAM, and gardening.  After guiding the participants to their workshops, the Youth Leaders provide support to each workshop facilitator by taking participants to the bathroom, running errands, and making sure each girl is fully participating and having fun. “One of the new skills that I’ve learned working with the girls this summer is that you have to be very patient. If they are upset, if you listen to them, it helps calm them down,” Mikaela says.

Last year when Casey was in the GDYT program, she was also a Rise N’ Shine Youth Leader. But this summer, she is working as a Peer Educator, “I really like it!” Casey shares. As a Peer Educator, Casey helps conduct Street Outreach with AFG staff and facilitates workshops to other young women on topics that affect them. For example, this month, they created and facilitated a workshop on child safety for the mothers in AFG’s shelter. During Street Outreach, Casey and the other Peer Educators visit local parks and recreation centers to reach out to girls and women who might need help or someone to talk to. “We tell them about what AFG does and share hotlines or resources if they need it,” Casey says.

Of course, as with any job, the young women have faced challenges as well. “One of the hardest parts of my job has been working with new people and learning how to work well with them,” Mikaela says. But despite these learning experiences, each young woman has made many memories, “We helped with a workshop for younger girls about bullying, and I noticed a couple of the girls were having a hard time understanding. I went over and helped them understand how you can prevent bullying and step in to help someone. It was great,” Casey smiles.

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank Grow Detroit’s Young Talent program for providing funding for this summer’s Rise N’ Shine Youth Leaders and Peer Educators!

Earth Day Service Project: Girls and young women partner with volunteers to give back to the community and take care of the environment

May. 1 2017 | Tags: , , ,

Alternatives For Girls participated in Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) on Saturday, April 22nd.  GYSD is an annual campaign that mobilizes millions of youth to improve their communities each year through service.  Celebrated in over 100 countries, GYSD is the largest service event in the world!  In an effort to spread the word about this annual event, The Michigan Community Service Commission offered mini grants to organizations who were interested. Alternatives For Girls applied, and received one of these grants.

“The Prevention team and I brainstormed on project ideas.  We wanted to make sure that the project would be a good overall learning experience for the young ladies,” said Jenny Clement, AFG’s Volunteer Services Manager, who helped lead the project along with AFG’s Prevention Program.  They made plans to do a community clean up, plant flowers, build a bench, and build bird feeders out of recycled materials.

During the planning phase, Jenny reached out to Home Depot in Dearborn.  They generously supported this effort by donating soil, mulch, bird feeders, and the materials needed to make a bench.  In addition to sending the supplies, ten volunteers also came to help with the project!  Over 40 people, including the girls and young women in AFG’s Prevention Program, convened to help clean up the outside of AFG and the surrounding community.

Serissa, a participant in the Prevention Program, really enjoyed her experience.  “We planted flowers, pulled weeds, and helped polish the bench once it was done,” she enthusiastically explained.  Serissa’s favorite activity was when she planted flowers around the AFG sign, which graces the front lawn.  “It’s the first thing that people see and I wanted to make sure it looked nice!”

One goal for the project was for the young woman to learn about the importance of giving back to the community.  “For this project, I picked up the trash around AFG.  It made me think about my own neighborhood and how I can help keep it clean,” said Karen, another participant in the Prevention Program.  It is no coincidence that GYSD took place on  Earth Day, a time where we all reflect on environmental issues and take action in ways that can make the world cleaner and safer for generations to come.

The girls and young women, volunteers, and AFG staff walked away with a commitment to continue taking care of the environment year round, instead of just one day.  This day of service was an extension of what is already being taught in the Prevention Program and the girls plan to continue to learn about recycling and ways to take care of the environment. In addition, Home Depot has made a commitment to come back to help maintain the projects that were started.  Indeed, it was a great learning experience for all and the outcome ignited a deeper commitment for a cleaner, safer, environment!

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank Home Depot for volunteering and donating supplies for this project, as well as Attack Hunger for donating lunch for all of the young women and volunteers!

Grit, Glam, and Guts: AFG hosts a statewide teen conference aimed at helping young women tackle issues of identity

Jul. 6 2016 | Tags: , ,

On June 11th, Alternatives For Girls hosted the Grit, Glam, and Guts Teen Conference. The conference is for teen girls ages 12-18 and was aimed at tackling social and emotional issues of identity. During the one day event, the young women heard from speakers all over the state, participated in breakout sessions, and much more. The sessions explored healthy relationships, beauty standards, and social pressures.

We sat down with Chelsea and Shani, a couple of the AFG Peer Educators who attended the conference, to hear about their favorite speakers, activities, and how they plan to use what they learned in their everyday life.

Alternatives For Girls: What was your favorite workshop?

Chelsea: My favorite workshop was the one about legacy. The topic of the workshop is what you leave behind when you’re gone. It showed that anyone can do anything, no matter what background they come from.

AFG: What was the most interesting thing you learned throughout the day?

Shani: The most interesting thing I learned was how someone can be so resilient and still be successful after everything they went through. That was from one of the speakers, she gave us a testimony of her life and all of the things she went through.

AFG: What was the most fun activity you did?

Chelsea: Doing the makeup! They showed us how to do our makeup and then they let us do it ourselves.

Shani: The dream boards. Each speaker had different stickers and markers and they had us write down things we liked about each workshop.

AFG: What is something that you learned that you plan to use in your everyday life?

Shani: Legacy isn’t selfish. It means giving back to your community, in more ways than just financially.

Chelsea: Don’t let people get to you or tear you down.

Graduation Stories: AFG’s high school graduates share their struggles and triumphs

Jun. 2 2016 | Tags: , , ,

This spring, high school seniors everywhere will be counting the days until their graduation day. Graduating from high school is an important milestone for every young adult, but for some, the path to graduating is filled with obstacles, like homelessness, violence in their communities, or even exploitation.

Despite these challenges, young women in AFG’s programs get the help and resources they need to walk across the stage with their peers. Last month, you met Tarra, a young woman determined to succeed. Below is our second graduation story which highlights a young woman with big plans for her future.

A Lifetime of Support

Meet April. April is 18 years old and has been a participant in AFG’s Prevention Department for the past 12 years! During her time in AFG’s programs, April received educational support in the After-School Program, had fun learning how to dance, garden, and more in the Rise N’ Shine summer camp, and found her voice in Young Women Changing Communities (YWCC), a youth leadership program. “YWCC helped me break out of my shell and feel confident about using my voice through becoming a group facilitator,” April explains.

Ready for the Future

April also credits AFG for helping her stay focused on her education and her plans for the future. “AFG has helped me solidify what career path I’ll choose by connecting me with an OB/GYN job shadow opportunity,” April reflects. April has been accepted to her top four college choices and hopes to attend University of Michigan this fall. “I plan to major in Cellular and Molecular Biology, with the intentions of becoming an OB/GYN,” she shares.  And with the support of AFG, April is now prepared to be whatever she puts her mind to.

Adventure Club Helps Girls Overcome Fears and Practice Leadership Skills

Jun. 30 2015 | Tags: , , , ,

“The hardest part of the trip was overcoming my fear of heights. I was nervous before but once we got in the hot air balloon and started going up, I got the hang of it and thought ‘This is so cool!’,” Maribel shares as she remembers the recent hot air balloon ride she took with AFG’s Adventure Club. The club allows the young women in our Prevention Department to experience the joys of nature through adventurous outdoor experiences and is able to do so through a generous grant from the Born and Raised Detroit Foundation. In the past, Adventure Club trips have included rustic camping, skiing, and even a trip to Costa Rica!

This year, the Adventure Club has been busy, with trips such as archery, scuba diving, tubing, and even a hot air balloon ride! Maribel is just one of the members of Adventure Club, which serves middle and high school aged participants (between the ages of 11-18) who have excellent or improved grade point averages, exhibit positive behavior, and demonstrate leadership skills. “We try to include as many middle and high school aged participants as we can, especially those who have never experienced these types of activities before.,” Gabrielle Dowdell, Prevention Youth Leadership Coordinator who works closely with the club, explains. The trips are planned with input and ideas from the club members and research done by Prevention staff members.

Although there were as many favorite trips as there are Adventure Club members, one common thread that ran through all of the recent experiences was learning how to do something new. “On the hot air balloon ride the girls helped inflate and deflate the balloon, they learned how to properly roll up the balloon, disassemble the basket, and put it away, and they even learned how the gases and gauges work,” Gabrielle explains. Rosa, another Adventure Club member, described her experience during the archery trip, “I was excited to learn something new. They showed us how to aim, how to hold the bow and arrow so we wouldn’t hurt ourselves, and let us get a lot of practice.”

Another common thread was leadership. “Developing leadership skills is a core principal in the Prevention Department. Adventure Club gives youth an opportunity to practice those skills. Many of the girls lead by example.” Gabrielle explains. “Girls who start out nervous or afraid, receive an abundance of encouragement from their peers. It is a joy to witness our girls develop as leaders in almost an instant. They are each others greatest cheerleaders.” Anayeli, who attended the scuba diving trip, agreed that having the support from her friends helped her overcome her fears, “I was so scared of drowning! But once I saw the instructor and the other girls did it I was more excited. We had so much fun playing Frisbee and other underwater games that we stayed under until our oxygen ran out!”

By being pushed outside of their comfort zone during the trips, Maribel, Rosa, Anayeli, and the rest of the Adventure Club members were able to make life long memories that they will never forget. The next adventurous activity the girls want to try? “Sky diving!” they all exclaimed with excitement in their eyes.

AFG would like to thank the countless individuals who made these trips possible through their financial support along with the generous support from the Born & Raised Detroit Foundation. See all of the photos from the recent Adventure Club trips here!

Blog: Rise N’ Shine

Sep. 19 2013 | Tags: , , ,

Rise N’ Shine

Posted on August 26, 2013 by Rajanae and Ciara

About the bloggers: Rajane is 19 years old, and a three year Youth Leader for  Rise N’ Shine. Ciara is 18 years old and a Youth Leader for AFG’s Rise N’ Shine  summer camp.

Rajane:  I was a member of the Rise N’ Shine summer program since I  was four years old, and grew too old to attend.   So I decided to join as a Youth Leader.   This year was my third year as a Youth Leader.  Each year gets more exciting.  This year we had a ton of swimming trips, and  we even went go cart racing.  The classes  for the girls were awesome; basketball, gardening, yoga, cooking, arts and  crafts, fashion design, movie making, and a lot of other fun classes.  Personally,   I like that we even help the girls with their reading and writing skills  while having fun.  Rise N’ Shine also  helps the Youth Leaders with leadership trainings, CPR, and with working on a  team.  Rise N’ Shine was a wonderful  experience for the young ladies, youth leaders, and the facilitators.  I believe we all gained something from this  summer.

Ciara: Working at Alternatives For  Girls was a  great experience. I got the  opportunity to mentor and have fun with young girls who are still discovering  who they are in this world. I got the chance to make someone smile, help them  take a risk, and watch them grow. I got a chance to work with my peers and grow  as an individual. Taking every step with these young girls along the way and  helping them feel comfortable with new obstacles was the greatest experience I  had while being a youth leader at Rise N’ Shine.

For some of you,

your first day was very scary and overwhelming.

Like your first day of school, too many new people.

And every morning that you came to Rise N’ Shine you were nervous,  really sleepy, and cautious.

We just wanted to show you that it’s okay to explore,

It’s okay to open up, play, laugh, and want more.


It’s okay to be afraid, and it’s okay to have fun all day.

Life will sometimes throw lemons your way,

make the best out of the bad and drink lemonade,

like you did here every day at lunch.

The smiles, laughs, cries, dances, rainy days, funny faces, field  trips, games, and friendships,

will all be a part of your memory

leaving you all doesn’t seem real to me.


As you move forward onto to your school year,

remember that your never alone, even when you think you are.


Remember it’s okay to take risk and try new things.

If you continue to grow and be yourself,

Life will always bring new things.


The world is waiting on you, go explore and spread your wings.