Girls Circle and Climate Change

May 12, 2009 at 5:16 am Leave a comment

When we’re talking about the relational and social climate, sometimes climate change can be a good thing. For girls, climate change can be an act of courage and connection.

Here’s one example of how girls act to change a school’s social climate when they are provided with a format that honors and fosters this capacity within them.

A few years back, in a San Francisco Bay Area school, I had the opportunity to pilot a Girls Circle program for elementary school girls, with support of a supportive principal and four volunteer counselor-interns.

The goal was to improve the third, fourth, and fifth grade girls’ relational climate and to stem their everyday conflicts, hurt feelings at school.

Multiple groups met during lunch periods with a facilitator, using the “Friendship” Activity Guide. In three weeks time, the yard duty staff and teachers noticed that arguments were fewer, and more rapidly settled.  A fourth grader found her power, saying,

No, I won’t leave her behind to be your friend. I want to be your friend AND her friend, and I don’t want to choose one of you over the other, I like you both!”

I noticed how eager, ready, and relieved these girls were for a forum in which they could improve their relationships.

It’s very hard for kids to individually challenge social norms or reach out to less popular or bullied kids.  Everyone is afraid they might be the next target.  Whether being excluded, cyberbullying, sucked into the rumor mill, or brought down in a fight, girls can appear to be caught up in cruelty. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t seeking a way to create and live in a kinder world. By offering a program that provides them with permission, expectation, and tools to connect, girls typically respond quickly, interacting in more healthy and inclusive ways.

What are your stories of climate change? Have you noticed the readiness, relief, and leadership in girls once they have a Girls Circle? – Beth

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