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2015 Rise N’ Shine Finale

Aug. 31 2015 | Tags: , , , ,

“One thing I’ve learned this summer is to be fearless!” Makhya, one of the 70 campers who attended Rise N’ Shine, AFG’s free summer camp, shares while smiling from ear to ear. Rise N’ Shine tends to have this effect on the girls, aged 4-14, who attend each summer. Between the fresh summer air, countless fun activities, and new friends everywhere you turn, Rise N’ Shine is a recipe for a fun summer vacation. Indeed, the fun is what brings girls back year after year and allows them to experience workshops like gardening, chemistry, cooking, dance, and much more.

The excitement is tangible as you walk into the room for the camp’s summer finale. Held at AFG on August 13, the finale highlights what the campers have learned and accomplished during the summer and allows them to share it with their family and friends, who are invited to attend. Before the program begins, the girls introduce their parents to the new friends they have made, the Youth Leaders who have been supervising their groups all summer, and the AFG staff members who made the whole summer possible.

Once the program begins, the crowd enjoys perfectly choreographed dances, beautifully arranged songs sung by the campers and the Youth Leaders, and two plays performed by the girls from the Turning Books into Plays workshop. The plays, “Cinderella” and “You and Me and Home Sweet Home”, were books the girls adapted into plays and practiced all summer long. After weeks of preparation and practice, each girl excitedly and enthusiastically preforms her parts and then bows to a round of applause once they finish. After the performances, each participant is recognized for her accomplishments in the award ceremony. The youth leaders call up the girls they helped supervise and proudly awarded them a certificate of competition.

Before it’s time to leave, each girl receives their own 2015 Rise N’ Shine yearbook. As they race around trying to get their friends, Youth Leaders, and workshop facilitators to sign their books, they take a break to talk about what they learned and what they enjoyed most this summer. “This summer I’ve learned to be kind, not disrespectful or rude,” one girl shares. Another camper agrees and adds, “I’ve learned how to be challenged by new things.” Of course, their favorite things about Rise N’ Shine are also the things they will miss the most, “I’m going to miss my friends and my Youth Leader!” JaMiah, a returning camper, shares. One thing all of the girls agree on, they can’t wait to come back next summer and do it all over again!

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank all of the volunteers and donors who made Rise N’ Shine possible this summer!

Girls on the Run Workshop Helps Girls Build Positive Self-Esteem and Train for 5k

Aug. 3 2015 | Tags: , , ,

It’s a beautiful and sunny day in Detroit and out in AFG’s backyard a group of fifteen Rise N’ Shine campers have just finished a running game. The group gathers in a circle to discuss the topic of the day. “What is something you did today to take care of your body?” one Rise N’ Shine youth leader asks the group of nine to eleven year old campers. “Exercise!” one girl exclaims. “Run!” another adds excitedly.

Led by a group of youth leaders, the Girls on the Run workshop is just one of the many activities offered during Rise N’ Shine, AFG’s free six week summer day camp that allows girls between the ages of four and fourteen to learn new things, improve their reading skills, and make friends. The Girls on the Run workshop is being funded by the Skillman Foundation and has been made possible through a close partnership with the YMCA, who provided the curriculum as well as program support.

Girls on the Run is a physical activity based positive youth development program for girls in 3rd to 8th grade. The program curriculum teaches life skills through interactive lessons and running games and aims to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident. At the end of the program, the girls are physically and emotionally ready to complete a celebratory 5k running event with their fellow group mates.

And throughout Rise N’ Shine the girls will do just that; prepare to run a 5k race being held on Belle Isle in September. During the workshop, the girls run, stretch, do jumping jacks, sit ups, and in between the movement, they stop to laugh with their friends. They encourage each other by running beside one another and cheering each other on. Each girl fully participates in the exercising and the discussions that happen afterward.

Their excitement for the program also comes through when they speak about it. “The Girls on the Run workshop has been the best! It teaches us how to exercise, how to take care of our body, and what to do if we are mad or sad,” Yaritza, one of the girls in the group explains. Although learning different ways to care for your body is one of the focuses of Girls on the Run, there is also a heavy focus on helping the girls build positive self-esteem. “I’ve learned how to speak positively of myself and how to focus on positive talk,” Taysia, another camper shares.

The hardest part? “Running 7 laps,” Tatiana, another participant, laments. However, even though the other girls agree that the running is hard, it does not stop them from enjoying the positive benefits from the workshop. “But I like it a lot. I like that we are being healthy and making great choices for our bodies,” Taysia adds, with a smile on her face. After the final exercise of the day, the girls hurry inside to eat lunch. It is obvious by the smiles on their faces and their laughter that they are learning how good exercise can make you feel, both physically and mentally.

2014 Rise N’ Shine Finale

Aug. 28 2014 | Tags:

After six weeks of fun and educational workshops, making new friends, and trying new things during weekly offsite field trips, our Prevention Department’s summer camp, Rise N’ Shine celebrated another successful summer with its end of the summer finale on August 8th. The finale is meant to highlight what the participants have learned and accomplished during the camp and this year the participants showed off a ton of new talents.

The finale began with lunch and the viewing of display tables from the camp’s workshops. At the baking workshop table, the participants shared three different types of chocolate bark, a homemade chocolate candy with yummy toppings. A poster board displayed with the delicious dessert shared what the girls had learned in the workshop, with tips like, “Read the recipe first or you could make a big mistake!” and what they liked most about baking, “You get to have a tasty treat and you get to make desserts with your friends,” one girl shared. Throughout the finale, each girl excitedly shared the sweet treat with her family and friends. “My aunt didn’t believe that I helped make this!” one new baker exclaimed.

After lunch, Berta Malec, Family Services Case Planner, introduced the main event, a rendition of the musical Annie to be put on by all of the Rise N’ Shine participants. A result of the Turning Books into Plays workshop, the girls learned different portions of the musical that, when performed together, allowed the girls to seamlessly tell the entire story. After weeks of preparation and practice, each group excitedly and enthusiastically preformed their parts, with short breaks of applause in between scenes. For the final scene, all of the girls joined the stage and gave a sterling rendition of “Tomorrow”, with huge smiles on their faces.

Before it was time to say goodbye, each participant was recognized for her accomplishments in the award ceremony. The youth leaders called up the girls they helped supervise all summer and proudly awarded them a certificate of completion. Along with their certificates, each girl received a copy of the 2014 Rise N’ Shine yearbook. Created by the 11-14 year old group, this year’s book had a super heroes theme. The colorful yearbook included photos of each girl, quotes from participants, and fun pictures of workshops and field trips. After the ceremony ended, the girls excitedly asked their friends to sign their books while saying their final goodbyes. “I will always remember the youth leaders and all of my friends”, proclaimed one girl. Indeed, thanks to Rise N’ Shine, it was a summer the participants will never forget.

The Dedicated Youth Leaders of Rise N’ Shine

Jul. 1 2014 | Tags: , ,

Starting on July 1st, AFG’s halls will be filled with the sights and sounds of our Prevention Department’s annual summer camp, Rise N’ Shine (RNS). Three days a week, from 9am-3pm, approximately 75 girls between the ages of 4-14 participate in fun and educational workshops and field trips. This memorable six week camp is something that participants look forward to every summer and its existence wouldn’t be possible without the help from a very essential group, the Youth Leaders. The ten Youth Leaders hired this summer will assist in the programs’ execution by supervising RNS participants throughout their multiple workshops, helping cook and serve meals and snacks, and making sure that the participants are having fun throughout the day.

Youth Leaders must be between the ages of 16-21, have a 2.5 or higher Grade Point Average, must be currently enrolled in school, and have a number of other qualifications. “Youth Leaders must be flexible, have the ability to work in a team setting, have a positive attitude, and have the skills to work with younger children,” explains AFG Youth Services Coordinator, Tiffany Edwards, who will be supervising the Youth Leaders this summer. The benefits of being a Youth Leader are a weekly stipend and weekly trainings on topics such as positive youth development, employability skills, goal setting, CPR & First Aid, and team building activities. This year the Youth Leaders are funded in part by the Village Women’s Club Foundation and City Connect Detroit’s Grow Detroit’s Young Talent Program.

Essence, a second year Youth Leader, said she is excited for another summer with RNS. “It started out as a summer job, but as the summer went on, I really started to like it. So that led me to apply again this year,” Essence explains. Every day at 8:30 AM the Youth Leaders arrive to start cooking breakfast and setting up for the day’s activities. After serving breakfast and making sure all of the youth are accounted for, the Youth Leaders guide the participants to their workshops and provide support to each workshop facilitator by taking participants to the bathroom, running errands, and assisting in activities to keep the girls energized. When it’s time for lunch, Youth Leaders help prepare and serve the food until it is time to take the participants to their afternoon workshops. At the end of the day, they help serve a snack while checking out each girl as they leave to go home.

The full day of activities allows each Youth Leader time to practice valuable skills that they can use in the future. “I’ve bettered my conflict resolution skills since becoming a Youth Leader,” Essence shares. “Over the school year I worked as a tutor in an elementary school, so a lot of the conflict resolution skills I learned were very useful because they are younger and are working on self-control.” Of course, there are challenges as well, “The most challenging thing is dealing with all of the different personalities, not just the girls but other Youth Leaders, too. We work together as a team so it’s important to get to know everyone’s personalities and attitudes,” Essence explains.

Being a Youth Leader in RNS still allows the young women to enjoy the summer while improving these skills. “My favorite part of RNS is being able to participate in the activities and the workshops that the girls participate in. They are really fun and I learned from them too,” Essence shares. “I really enjoy the field trips as well, it’s good to get away and have fun. And the girls really like them too,” she smiles. The hard work and dedication that the Youth Leaders exhibit does not go unnoticed by Tiffany, “The Youth Leaders are very important because without them I don’t think Rise N’ Shine would run as smoothly. They’re the ones who take the initiative and believe in our vision and execute the ideas we have. Without them, how would we do it?”

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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.