Peer Education Archives - Alternatives For Girls

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“I did it!”: AFG’s high school graduates share their struggles and triumphs

Jun. 3 2019 | Tags: , , ,

This spring, young women from AFG’s programs are graduating high school! Because of your support, they each received the help they needed to stay focused on their education, earn their diploma, and make plans for the future. Below are a couple of stories from this year’s high school graduates.

Ready for the Future

Meet Yasmine. Yasmine is 17 years old and has been a participant in AFG’s Peer Education program for two years. “High school was challenging at times,” Yasmine recalls. “During my junior year, I transferred to a different school. I was scared at first because I didn’t know anyone and the classes were harder.”

When she needed help with her homework, Yasmine knew just where to turn. “AFG helped me get tutoring in math when I was struggling,” she shares. This fall, Yasmine will be starting her first year of college, where she plans to study social work!

Now that she’s almost done with high school, Yasmine says she will miss her friends and seeing her favorite teachers every day. She is looking forward to the independence that college will bring her, “I’m looking forward to living on my own,” she smiles.

As a soon to be high school graduate, Yasmine had plenty of advice for her younger peers, “Don’t hang around with negative crowds. Be around people who make you laugh and smile! And do your work!”

A Bright Future

Meet Jamica. Jamica has been a resident in AFG’s shelter since last year. “In the beginning, high school was hard. I didn’t have classes I was interested in and struggled to stay focused,” Jamica explains. “My senior year was even harder, because I missed a lot of school.”

Since Jamica came to AFG’s shelter, she has received support that has allowed her to catch up on her school work. She was able to get all the credits she needed to graduate this spring! “AFG also helped me pay my senior dues, and they helped provide me with school supplies and clothing,” Jamica recalls.

During high school, Jamica discovered the classes she liked best were the ones that allowed her to work with her hands. Recently, she had the opportunity to go to a trade conference where she learned about different trades and career paths she could follow. “I really enjoyed learning about tiling!” Jamica exclaims. Jamica had a lot of advice for her younger peers, “Stay on top of your work! And make sure you work before you play. Get into different activities, and don’t work yourself too hard. Have fun!”

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!

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.

The Dow Chemical Company Event Provides Vital Support to AFG Programs

Aug. 3 2015 | Tags: , , , ,

On a mild summer day, 100 employees from The Dow Chemical Company and four Alternatives For Girls Peer Educators (PEs) are outside of the H Hotel in Midland Michigan, packing backpacks and hygiene kits and assembling bicycles and picnic tables. A few of the PEs grab a packing list for the backpacks and start looking for the items that belong in the bag. Like a scavenger hunt, they check things off the list, only to look up again and search for the next item. Meanwhile, another PE works with Dow employees to assemble a beautiful, colorful bicycle. “I only did one bike, but it felt kind of intense. It was like a race because everyone was working on the bikes all at once. It was fun!” Deana, one of the AFG PEs who attended the event, remembers.

The event, held on July 15 by The Dow Chemical Company, was called Power to Influence and is a training opportunity for its technicians. “The event provides the technicians an opportunity to receive specialized training that will aid in their own development and set the stage to develop others by leveraging their learnings from the program,” Sarah McManus, Operations Learning and Talent Development Administrator at The Dow Chemical Company, explains. Because The Dow Chemical Company strongly believes in giving back to the community, the event also incorporates a volunteer activity.

For this Power to Influence event, the volunteer activity was assembling donations for Alternatives For Girls. In addition, Dow also invited girls from AFG to attend the event to learn about what they do, help during the volunteer activity, and even stay overnight at the hotel! The Peer Educators who attended were chauffeured to Midland by a private taxi service (courtesy of Dow!) and had a welcome basket when they arrived to their hotel room! “It made me feel really special!” Da’shea, another AFG PE who attended, shared.

During the event, the group put together 10 bicycles, 100 backpacks filled with school supplies, 90 hygiene kits, and 4 picnic tables, in less than an hour! “It was great to see all of the hard work come together. Everyone moved really quickly and wanted to help!” Sarah shared. “The whole experience was fun! It felt like they were really trying to help us out,” Da’shea shared.

The Dow Chemical Company reached out to other companies in the area to support Alternatives For Girls, as well. “Ray’s Bike Shop of Midland gave me a wonderful discount on the Electra bicycles that were assembled. They also sent a store representative to the event to help with the process and answer any questions,” Sarah explained. In addition, Corrigan Moving Systems, a moving company also located in the Midland area, transported all of the items from Midland to Detroit for free!

For Sarah, the highlight of the day was sharing the experience with the PEs. “It was a pleasure to meet the AFG girls. Everyone was glad that the AFG group could join us,” Sarah shared. The PEs who attended had a blast during the event, and after. “My favorite part of the trip was meeting new people and hearing their stories. I learned about someone who was from Texas that was homeless when she was 13,” Danea shared. The girls also enjoyed swimming in the hotel pool afterwards and receiving their own backpack filled with goodies before they drove back to AFG. “It was definitely a great experience. I’m very grateful that I got to experience it,” Danea reflects, smiling from ear to ear.

AFG would like to thank Sarah McManus, The Dow Chemical Company and all of its employees, Ray’s Bike Shop, and Corrigan Moving Systems for their generous support of the girls and women we serve!

Face Forward Resource Fair Provides Access to Valuable Services for Youth

Apr. 30 2015 | Tags: , , , ,

One of AFG’s newest programs, Face Forward, held its first resource fair for youth on March 30 at the Patton Recreation center. The fair, aptly named “March Madness”, was put together to provide youth with opportunities to make direct contact with hiring employers, provide access to additional community and educational resource, and also served as an enrollment effort for the Face Forward program. To participate in the event, each youth had to meet the same in criteria as they do for the Face Forward program (be 16-24, currently reside in Wayne County, have past or current involvement in the juvenile justice system, have no adult criminal offenses, and have no sexual offenses other than prostitution).


“March Madness” was packed full of activities for the youth who attended. Those in attendance had the opportunity to apply for jobs on site from venders such as Public Allies Metro Detroit, Youth United, Detroit Fire Department, Auto Zone, Tim Hortons, and more. Educational vendors, Covenant House Academy, St. Vincent & Sarah Fisher Center, Job Corps, and Back on Track Alternative Education provided educational resources and information, while community organizations such as Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit, Michigan State Health, and AFG provided program information for eligible youth. Additional resources included private HIV testing by the Horizons Project and mini workshops facilitated by AFG Peer Educators.
The youth also had the opportunity to enjoy food, music, and fun during “March Madness”. Youth participated in a basketball shoot-out tournament, a NBA 2K video game tournament, and “Minute To Win It” games, and also had the chance to enter to win a mountain bike, gift cards, t-shirts, and more. The young woman who won the bike shared that she previously used the bus for transportation and was elated that she could now use her bike to get where she needed to go.


Overall, “March Madness” successfully recruited youth for the Face Forward program and made it possible to provide access to worthwhile services to those who attended. AFG would like to thank the Detroit Recreation Department for sponsoring the location for this event and all of the vendors who provided resources and information for the youth!

For more information on the next Face Forward event or to enroll in the Face Forward program, contact Tyresha Robinson, Case Planning Services Manager of Face Forward, at 313-361-4000 ext. 240 or

Participants Share Their Graduation Stories

May. 29 2014 | Tags: , , ,

It is graduation season for our high school seniors so we sat down with a few participants to talk about their high school experiences. Of course, each path to graduation is different. Each of our girls has a different story; each had her own struggles and her own accomplishments. These are some of their stories.


“English is my favorite subject because I get to learn about all of the different stuff that has happened by reading the plays, like Hamlet”, Brittany shares. Brittany is a Peer Educator (PE) in AFG’s Outreach and Education Services Department. An honor roll student, Brittany says she will miss her peers now that high school is over but is looking forward to finding a job and getting her own car.

Although Brittany worked hard to get good grades throughout high school, she admits that there were times she struggled in doing just that. “The work is (typically) easy, but at times it can be challenging. Some of the classes I got, like accounting, were hard”, Brittany recalls. Through these difficult times, Brittany says that her coordinators and fellow PE’s played a role in keeping her moving forward, “They motivate you to stay in school and make sure you’re on the right track”.

Brittany has succeeded despite these hard times and is proud of herself for being an honor roll student and getting good grades. After she graduates, Brittany has plans to pursue a career as a Pediatrician by studying at Wayne County Community College and Wayne State University. As for the incoming freshmen who will be starting high school next year, Brittany has some words of wisdom for them, “It’s a good experience. You learn a lot about friends, school, work, and boys”.


Taija is a Shelter Aftercare participant who is also attending the Transition to Independent Living (TIL) classes here at AFG.  As a senior getting prepared to graduate, Taija says her favorite class is Personal Finance and the thing she will miss most about high school is learning.

Taija’s path to graduation included becoming pregnant with her daughter. “When I was younger I didn’t get great grades, since I’ve been a senior I’ve been making better grades. I think my daughter has motivated me”, Taija explains. “When she grows up, I want her to get good grades in school. I don’t want her to do bad like I did”, she continues. While pregnant, Taija was a resident in AFG’s shelter and was determined to keep school a priority, taking the bus to get there and back every day.  

Since leaving the shelter, Taija has continued participating in AFG programming by joining the TIL classes. “I joined the TIL group because there was more I could benefit from, like scholarships”, Taija shares. After she graduates, Taija is currently deciding between attending a trade school to become a nurse’s assistant or joining the National Guard. “The National Guard can help you with your life, you have to get up every morning and be dedicated. I think I can do that”, she explains. In addition to her future career plans, Taija is looking forward to getting an apartment, a new job, and taking care of her daughter on her own.

Alternatives For Girls is proud of all of the graduates and wishes them the best of luck in all of their future endeavors!

Peer Educators Sew Hats for Children’s Hospital

Apr. 24 2014 | Tags: , ,

This winter, youth in AFG’s Outreach and Education Services Peer Education program expressed to AFG staff that they wanted to do a volunteer service project for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. After considering a few different options, they decided to make fleece hats for the children at the hospital. With the help of one of our fantastic volunteers, the Peer Educators learned to sew the hats. They used a variety of colorful fleece, which provided joy and, most importantly, warmth during those frigid winter temperatures we experienced in Detroit this year.

The first meeting the Peer Educators (PE’s) had was a preparation meeting, where they learned how to cut out the pieces of fleece based on the size of hat they were making. Next, they spent about 5 hours one afternoon, learning to sew and completing their hats. After they learned how to create the hats, the Peer Educators had to teach the whole process to one of their program coordinators. The purpose of this exercise was to help the PE’s fully learn and retain their new skills.

Peer Educator, Tiana, spoke about why the project was important to her, “Making the hats for the children was very heart warming and it feels good to help other people, if I’m capable of doing it. I hope they all loved the hats.”

In total, the youth made 23 hats! A group of the Peer Educators met with Lindsay Heering, the Manager of Child Life Services at Children’s Hospital, to deliver the complete hats. Lindsay gave the group a tour and told them about all the programs at the hospital. The young women in AFG’s Peer Education program were so inspired by the project that they would like to do another project later this year to make fleece blankets for the children at the hospital.

The Peer Educators are hoping to collect donations of new fleece in order to have enough supplies to complete a blanket project. If you’d like to support the cause with a fabric donation, please contact Alex Hayes at or (313) 361-4000 x223.

“I’ve seen how it’s changed peoples’ lives”

Nov. 26 2013 | Tags: , , ,

“It seemed like a good opportunity to do something different,” explains Brittany. Brittany has been a part of the Know Risks Peer Education team at AFG for almost two years. But before joining the team, she didn’t always feel like she had much direction in life.

The 17-year-old high school senior has a big smile and sparking brown eyes. She speaks with pride as she describes what she does as a part of the Know Risks team. “We go to [community organizations like] Vista Maria and Starfish and do workshops on healthy relationships, HIV, and self-esteem,” she explains.  “I get to teach girls new stuff that they don’t know about…I’ve seen how it’s changed peoples’ lives.”

Learning responsibility

In helping others, Brittany has also been able to strengthen herself. She says that she has become much more independent since becoming a Peer Educator. “It’s teaching us how to be responsible for when we have a real job,” she explains.

She’s been able to improve her grades from C’s to A’s and B’s. She credits this improvement to being a Peer Educator. “I got more focused on my work,” she says proudly.

Brittany recently moved from the Know Risks team to a new Peer Education team focused on juvenile justice (stay tuned for more info!). This year, she plans to graduate from high school and go on to college. She wants to first become an RN, but ultimately she would like to become a pediatrician. She wants to transfer her love of working with other youth into being able to help children.