Prevention Archives - Alternatives For Girls

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It’s time to Rise N’ Shine!: AFG’s free, six-week summer camp, Rise N’ Shine, is in full swing

Jul. 25 2019 | Tags: , , ,

On July 8th, the Rise N’ Shine summer camp began! The free, six-week summer camp gives girls in southwest Detroit a safe space to learn new things, improve their reading skills, make friends, and have fun. For three days each week, the campers spend the day participating in fun, educational workshops and field trips. This summer, workshops include science, dance, arts and crafts, gardening, nutrition, and more.

This year, the campers are between the ages of 7 to 15 years old. Each girl is assigned to one of three age groups, which determines the workshops they will attend each day. We sat down with some of the campers* from each group to hear about their favorite workshops, what they’ve learned, and more!

Sarah, Red Group (ages 10-11)

“My favorite part of Rise N’ Shine is the different people you get to meet!” Sarah exclaims. Sarah has been coming to Rise N’ Shine for six years. “I like that Rise N’ Shine is different every day,” she shares. The Red Group’s weekly workshops include African dance, STEAM (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), gardening, and nutrition. Sarah’s favorite workshop? Bike Club! Back Alley Bikes, non-profit community bike shop, is hosting the Bike Club workshop this summer. The campers are learning bike safety, how to change a tire, how to find a bike that fits their body, and more. They also go on bike rides together and have visited local businesses and gardens!

Mae, Yellow Group (ages 7-9)

Another Rise N’ Shine veteran, Mae has been coming to the camp for three years. “I love being able to talk to my friends!” Mae exclaims. In the Yellow Group, Mae and her friends attend gardening, science, theater, dance, and nutrition workshops. “My favorite workshop is gardening!” Mae says. In the gardening workshop, facilitated by the Detroit Garden Center, the campers learn the basics of planting, composting, and harvesting. “I like that we get to plant stuff, like flowers!” Mae shares. Mae’s second favorite workshop is science where she gets to do fun science experiments like making slime!

Christina, Blue Group (ages 11-15)

This is Christina’s first summer coming to Rise N’ Shine! “It’s fun! The girls in my group are great!” she smiles. The Blue Group attend arts and crafts, Chinese language and culture, science, nutrition, and STEAM workshops. Christina’s favorite workshop is arts and crafts. The campers get to stretch their artistic muscles by creating their own jewelry, picture frames, and more. “I also love the science workshop. We made rockets out of paper and launched them out of a tube,” she explains with her eyes wide. One thing Christina will always remember are the friends she made this summer, “I think we will all stay friends for a long time!”

A big thank you to all of the Rise N’ Shine volunteers, workshop facilitators, and everyone who has supported the camp this year!    

*Names have been changed to protect their confidentiality.

Rise N’ Shine Finale

Aug. 31 2018 | Tags: , , , , , ,

On August 16th, AFG’s Rise N’ Shine summer camp came to an end. Rise N’ Shine is a free six-week summer camp that gives girls living in southwest Detroit a safe space to learn new things, improve their reading skills, and make friends. For three days each week, the campers spend the day participating in fun, educational workshops and field trips. This summer, workshops included: gardening, dancing, science, and more.

The 74 campers celebrated their memorable summer with a fun end of summer finale. The finale allows the camper’s families to see what they’ve learned and created throughout the summer. The excitement was kicked off with a performance from the 7-9 year old group. Throughout the summer, they completed a dance and movement workshop with ArtLab J and had a blast learning the choreography for the dance. Their hard work and practice paid off once they were able to perform their masterpiece for friends and family. Judging by the applause, the audience thoroughly enjoyed their performance!

That wasn’t the only original performance of the day, the 9-11 year group and the 12-14 year old group also performed dances with the help of ArtLab J and Heritage Works, respectively. The latter group wore traditional outfits and danced along to the drum beat to deliver a fun and energetic performance that was definitely a crowd favorite. The final performance of the day was from the 9-11 year old group and 12-14 year old group. The groups worked with Matrix Theatre to create an empowering performance using voice and movement.

Finally, certificates and yearbooks were distributed. In the end, there were a lot of smiles and hugs as the girls signed each other’s yearbooks and waved goodbye for now. Before leaving, Anahi reflected on her summer at AFG, “My favorite part of Rise N’ Shine is meeting friends.” Vanessa agrees, and adds, “Don’t forget about the fieldtrips! My favorite one was the water park!”

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank all of the volunteers and donors who supported Rise N’ Shine this summer. Thank you for making it a summer the girls will never forget!

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!

The High School Graduate with a 10-Year Plan

Jun. 29 2018 | Tags: , , ,
This month, high school seniors everywhere were 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 or violence in their communities. Despite these challenges, with your support the young women at AFG get the help and resources they need to walk across the stage with their peers. For the 18th year in a row, 100% of the high school seniors in AFG’s Prevention Program did just that.

 

Eboni is one of these graduating seniors. She is just 18 years old but already has a 10-year plan. “I plan to study cosmetology so that I can get a job that will help me to earn money to pay for college. First, I will got to a local community college to study my prerequisites. Then, I plan to transfer to a university to study Psychology, get my master’s and doctorate. Finally, I will open my own private practice,” Eboni recites. She’s committed these goals to memory. A step by step plan for her future.

 

Bumps in the Road

Her road for the future didn’t always seem so clear. “There was a time in 10th grade when I wanted to drop out. Things were bad, and I felt like giving up,” Eboni recalls. A dedicated teacher convinced Eboni to stay in school, but her struggles did not end there. “My senior year was harder than I thought it would be. I picked up two jobs and it was overwhelming at times.”

 

“I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t found AFG.”

Eboni started coming to AFG’s After-School Program during her junior year. “I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t found AFG,” Eboni shares. “AFG has helped me on so many levels. From helping me improve my confidence, to helping my family when we needed extra support. AFG has been one of my biggest support systems these past two years.”

 

Looking Forward to the Future

Thanks to your support, Eboni is now a high school graduate with big plans for her future. Although she is looking forward to the next chapter, there are some parts of her high school experience that she will miss. “The thing I will miss most about high school is being around a group of people who have so much ambition,” Eboni says of her fellow classmates. “We’ve watched each other grow into who we are today.”

Although she will miss some aspects of high school, Eboni is looking forward to a lot, especially having a flexible schedule. “I am looking forward to having control over how I spend my day and organizing it how I want it to be instead of having to be in school for eight hours a day,” she shares.

 

You Help Girls & Young Women, Every Day

Year after year, girls like Eboni come to AFG, and get the support they need to stay focused on their education, graduate high school, and make plans for the future. AFG has added the “Asset Building Program for Education and Opportunity” focusing on middle school girls that provides, not just the opportunity to open a college savings account, but also access to additional specific supports, such as mentoring, in order to help prepare them for post-high school education academically, financially, and socially.  Your support makes this possible. Thank you for believing in the futures of girls and young women.

The Soul of Alternatives For Girls: Thanks to a grant and the help of local artists, the after-school program creates new mural to reflect the soul of AFG

May. 31 2018 | Tags: , ,

Photo taken by: Julianne Lindsey

This month, the girls in AFG’s After-School Program completed a new mural inside of AFG’s building with the help of local artists, Julianne Lindsey and Elton Monroy Duran. The mural was made possible by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Corpus Art Inc., Culture Source, and the NEA.

Over the course of a few months, Julianne and Elton worked with the girls to come up with an idea for the mural. During the process, the group visited other nearby murals, like the one at E&L Supermercado in southwest Detroit, to gather inspiration.

“We came up with the idea as a group, and we wanted to include the different cultures of girls all over the world,” shared Ahtziri, one of the young women who worked on the project. The mural is meant to represent the soul of AFG. The mural shows that at AFG, girls and young women learn and grow, and AFG helps to support them as they continue their journey in the world, sharing their dreams, culture, and experiences everywhere they go. Just as a dandelion spreads its seeds in the wind.

“Creating the idea for the mural was my favorite part of the project,” shares Jenny, another young woman who helped with the mural. “I liked how all of the different backgrounds we wanted to include were made into one.”

Once they settled on their idea, Julianne and Elton worked to put the girls’ vision to life, helping them choose a background, a color scheme, and outlines for the images. After Elton completed the majority of the mural’s background, the girls helped complete the mural by painting small images of girls floating down to earth. Each image was inspired by the culture, experiences, and role models of the girls who worked on the project. “My favorite part of the project was painting the mural,” Ahtziri recalls. “I liked being able to express my culture in the girl that I painted.”

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank Julianne Lindsey, Elton Monroy Duran, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Corpus Art Inc., Culture Source, and the NEA for this wonderful opportunity!

A Whole World of Opportunities: The after-school program helps girls be safe, healthy and make positive choices

May. 2 2018 | Tags: , ,

It’s a Tuesday evening and the girls in the after-school program are playing in AFG’s “backyard”. From yards away, squeals and laughter can be heard as the girls play tag and climb on the playscape.

After some time playing outside, the girls have dinner, receive homework help, and begin their nightly workshops.  On this particular night, the middle school group is learning painting techniques from a volunteer and creating beautiful paintings of colorful sunsets. The room is quiet and peaceful, as they calmly create their own unique work of art. Close by, the high school group is learning how to code with volunteers from Best Buy’s Geek Squad. The young women quickly race to complete a puzzle with different lines of code and celebrate when they complete it as a team. Their eyes are wide as the volunteers explain how they can create and customize their own website.

This is just a typical evening in AFG’s After-School Program. A place where girls and young women have the chance to discover a whole world of opportunities.

The program starts in October each year and runs until late May. Three nights per week, the girls arrive at AFG and are greeted with the smiling faces of their friends. After signing in and grabbing a snack, they sit down to work on their homework together, with the help of staff and volunteers. Before splitting into their proper age group, all of the girls and young women have the chance to eat dinner together and talk about the day’s highs and lows.

After breaking into the elementary, middle, and high school groups, the girls participate in workshops geared towards helping them be safe, healthy, and make positive choices in their lives. This year, the groups have explored topics ranging from preparing for college and learning about different careers to building positive self-esteem and communication skills.

The main goal is to keep each girl engaged in her education so she can graduate from high school and pursue higher education. This year, for the 18th year in a row, 100% of the high school seniors in the after-school program are graduating! Without you, none of this would be possible.

Learning How to Ride: Girls in the Prevention Program end their summer at Detroit Horse Power

Sep. 26 2017 | Tags: ,

In August, girls from AFG’s Prevention Program attended the Detroit Horse Power summer camp for the third summer in a row. During the week-long horseback riding camp, the girls learned how to take care of the horses and how to ride safely. They also got the chance to practice riding each day. “I learned trotting, posting, and how to ride the horse by myself,” recalls Lizbeth, who attended the camp for the first time this summer. “Trotting was my favorite part because it’s fast!” she smiles.

Throughout the camp, the girls also discussed how confidence, perseverance, self-control, and empathy relate to horseback riding. “It’s important to be confident with horses and to have self-control. You can’t get angry at the horses because they don’t know better. You just have to try harder,” Lizbeth explained. The confidence she learned while horseback riding has also transferred over into her school work, “I feel more confident to raise my hand in class and answer or ask questions.”

After the camp was over, the group took a two-day trip with Detroit Horse Power to Mackinac Island! The group visited The Little Barn, a non-profit horseback riding organization on the island, and got to meet their horses, bail hay, and meet the kids who participate in The Little Barn program. While on the island, the girls also explored downtown Mackinac Island, visited the Equestrian Center, and swam in the hotel pool.

AFG would like to thank The Little Barn for hosting the girls and helping to secure lodging and Detroit Horse Power for paying for the trip and offering this incredible opportunity to the girls at Alternatives For Girls!

Goodbye for Now: Rise N’ Shine finale marks end of 6 weeks of fun, learning, and so much more

Aug. 31 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

On August 18th, AFG’s Rise N’ Shine summer camp came to an end. Rise N’ Shine is a free six-week summer camp that gives girls living in southwest Detroit a safe space to learn new things, improve their reading skills, and make friends. For three days each week, the campers spend the day participating in fun, educational workshops, and field trips. This summer, workshops included: gardening, dancing, science, and more.

A Place to Learn

When we asked Melanie, a first time camper, what her favorite thing about Rise N’ Shine was, she had a hard time narrowing it down. “Everything! The people, the food, the activities. Everything was great!” For Mia, a second-time camper, the workshops were the high point of the summer, “I loved the nutrition workshop. We did a lot of cooking and learned about a lot of foods. We even made our own butter!” Other favorite workshops included gardening and STEM with Madonna University. “We learned a lot about science, like how caterpillars turn into butterflies,” Melanie exclaimed.

There was a lot of learning going on outside of the workshops, as well. “I learned that it’s good to be with strangers because you can get to know them and become good friends. That’s what I did this summer, and I learned a lot about different cultures!” shared Melanie. Mia agreed, “I learned about teamwork and how to make friends.”

Time to Celebrate

The 60 campers celebrated their memorable summer with a fun end of summer finale. The finale allows the camper’s families to see what they’ve learned and created throughout the summer. The excitement kicked off with a performance from the 7-9-year-old group. Throughout the summer, they completed a workshop with Matrix Theatre Company and wrote their own original play! Their hard work and practice paid off once they were able to perform their masterpiece for friends and family. Judging by the laughter and applause, the audience thoroughly enjoyed their creativity and performance!

That wasn’t the only original play of the day, the 9-10 year group and the 10-11-year-old group also performed plays that they wrote with Matrix Theatre Company. The latter group performed a play titled “Pollution”, an inspiring tale of magical mermaids who helped save the earth from pollution. In addition to the plays, the Revamp workshop modeled the clothing they designed from recycled materials and fabrics and the Dance workshop performed an original dance number.

Goodbye for Now

Finally, certificates and yearbooks were distributed. In the end, there were a lot of smiles and hugs as the girls signed each other’s yearbooks and waved goodbye for now. Before leaving, Mia looked around the room and reflected on her summer at AFG, “I will always remember my friends. I’m going to miss coming here every day!” Serissa, a third-time camper, agreed and added, “Rise N’ Shine is a good place to be!”

Rise N’ Shine’s Mad Scientists: Madonna University students teach campers about science, and that anything is possible

Aug. 1 2017 | Tags: , , , ,

On July 11th, Alternatives For Girls’ Rise N’ Shine summer camp began! The free, six-week summer camp gives girls living in southwest Detroit a safe space to learn new things, improve their reading skills, make friends, and have fun. For three days each week, the campers spend the day participating in fun, educational workshops, and field trips. This summer, workshops include dance, arts and crafts, gardening, cooking, and more.

One exciting new workshop this summer is being led by six young women who are students from Madonna University. The group is teaching the campers about all the different areas of science and the many different science career paths. Each of the Madonna students is studying science and majoring in either Biology or Forensic Science. “We really want to give the girls glimpses of different areas of science – biology, geology, chemistry, forensics,” explains Bianca Hasani, one of the workshop facilitators.

So far, the group has covered the scientific method, DNA sequencing, how to use a microscope, the life cycle of a butterfly, and more. One week, the girls started their own experiment, growing a sunflower from a seed, using the scientific method. Jessica Peg, another facilitator, explained, “We did some activities, like [growing] the sunflowers, so that they could watch the progress and see them grow over just a few weeks.” Annett, a Rise N’ Shine camper in the workshop, has already learned so much, “We learned that caterpillars take three to five weeks to grow into a butterfly!” she exclaims.

When learning how to use the microscopes, the girls looked at different types of diseases and parasites. One camper told the volunteers that she had learned about parasites in school, but didn’t get to see it under a microscope. “I got to help her make the connection between that and what we were looking at. It was great,” shares Jessica.

Another goal of the workshop is to expose them to science based careers and show them that it is something they can pursue. “Since science and math are male dominated fields, we want to show them that girls can be scientists, too!” says Eunice Herman, another student. Bianca agrees, “We want to teach them that education is for everyone. We want to teach them that they can grow up to be a nurse, or whatever they want.”

Future activities will include building terrariums with succulents and some fun activities like making ice cream or slime. “I want to learn more about Forensic Science,” Annett smiles. For the young women leading the workshop, the best part is seeing the campers getting interested in science. Bianca explains, “My favorite part of teaching the girls is that I’m a role model for them. I’m getting them excited about science!”

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank the Madonna University students; Jessica Peg, Bianca Hasani, Eunice Herman, Kelsey Hanover, Sarah Knapp, and Nicole Carlin, as well as their Lead Professor, Veronica Riha, for spending their summer teaching the Rise N’ Shine campers all about science!

June Volunteer Spotlight: Marie Lowry

Jun. 8 2017 | Tags: , , ,

Each month, Alternatives For Girls’ Volunteer Department, highlights one volunteer who AFG staff recognize as being dedicated, passionate, and going above and beyond. This month we spotlight Marie Lowry, a volunteer in AFG’s Prevention Program!

Marie has been a longtime supporter of Alternatives For Girls and spent the past year volunteering as a tutor for the after-school program. In recent months, she has gone above and beyond by leading a project to improve the library at AFG.

When speaking with Marie, she explained that her proudest moment as a volunteer came when she consistently tutored a young girl in the after-school program. The girl was struggling with her handwriting, which was affecting her ability to complete her homework. After a few weeks of practice, not only did the participant’s handwriting improve but so did her academic performance and confidence with her school work!

Marie takes pleasure in being part of an organization that focuses on girls and women and especially enjoys working with the younger girls of the Prevention Department. One of Marie’s strengths is her enthusiasm, which also makes her an excellent volunteer. Marie’s enthusiasm for tutoring each week demonstrates to the girls and young women in the program that she cares about them and values her time with them. Marie also spreads her passion within her own community, as she frequently shares opportunities with members of her church to support AFG and become more involved.

Thank you, Marie, for continuing to make a difference in the lives of girls and young women.

Interested in volunteering? Please contact Jenny Clement, Volunteer Services Manager, at 313-361-4000 x248 or volunteering@alternativesforgirls.org to discuss the next steps to becoming a volunteer at Alternatives For Girls!