Empowering Young Women from Ohio State University

November 18, 2009 at 8:37 pm 9 comments

Vicki Pitstick is the Program Manager at the University Honors & Scholars Center at The Ohio State University.  She is also a long time advocate of Girls Circle who has recently become a Licensed Girls Circle Trainer and is working on developing new curricula for GCA.  In short, we LOVE Vicki Pitstick!

She recently wrote an article on Girls Circle for The Principal’s Office, a virtual community of over 5,000 Ohio school principals learning from each other.  Please read her article and comment if you are so inclined. Thank you to Vicki for all of her beautiful work with Girls Circle!

Read the article here or below:  http://principalsoffice.osu.edu/files/story.11.09.php

Empowering Young Women with The Girls Circle Program

by Vicki Pitstick

Empowering young girls and women has always been an interest of mine. This might be because my own parents always told me that I could achieve anything I set my mind to, but it is also largely due to the fact that I have three elementary-aged girls of my own, and I want them to be able to make good decisions about anything society throws at them. About a year and a half ago, I decided that I wanted to be more proactive in finding ways to empower young girls and women. I wanted to find a way to help them build self-esteem but also to assist them in developing ways to combat societal pressures and the challenges that come with adolescence. This is when I discovered the Girls Circle program.

The Girls Circle model, a structured support group for girls from 9-18 years, integrates relational theory, resiliency practices, and skills training in a specific format designed to increase positive connection, personal and collective strengths, and competence in girls. It aims to counteract social and interpersonal forces that impede girls’ growth and development by promoting an emotionally safe setting and structure within which girls can develop caring relationships and use authentic voices. http://www.girlscircle.com

In the summer of 2008, I attended the 2-day Girls Circle training, and I knew I wanted to find a way to incorporate this model into my work with college women, with young girls in the Columbus community, and with my own children in the future. This was the beginning of what is now called The Girls Circle Project at Ohio State, where I work as Program Manager in the University Honors & Scholars Center. The Girls Circle Project consists of training college women to run Girls Circles with middle school and high school girls in local schools and agencies in the Columbus area. During their training, the women participate in a Girls Circle themselves in autumn quarter, and they are also required to attend the 2-day Girls Circle Facilitator training that the Girls Circle Association offers. In addition to all of this, other speakers from the campus and the community are brought in to present such topics as racial awareness, mentoring, and handling group dynamics.

During the 2008-2009 academic year, 11 college women were trained to be Girls Circle facilitators, and the impact Girls Circles had for the young girls and the college women was truly rewarding. The college women learned a lot about themselves and also helped change young lives in the process. The amount of caring they developed for the middle school students they worked with was heartbreaking and touching in so many different ways. They learned about leadership, dealing with adversity, and working cooperatively. Most important, they realized how crucial it is to have strong, female role models in young girls’ lives in order for them to grow up and continue making positive changes in our society.

Research has shown that young girls who participate in Girls Circles reveal statistically significant improvement in four long-term outcomes (The Girls Circle website):

  • a decrease in self-harming behavior
  • a decrease in rates of alcohol use; an increase in attachment to school
  • an increase in self-efficacy

Additionally, girls’ surveys revealed significant increases in six skills developed over the short term:

  • finding things they have in common with a new person
  • trying to see beyond girls’ reputations
  • telling adults what they need
  • feeling good about their bodies
  • picking friends that treat them the way they want to be treated
  • telling people how much they mean to them

Anecdotally, we heard from the administrators from the two schools where we ran Girls Circles that the young girls had a better attitude toward school and their teachers and that they were interacting with one another in more positive ways. Here is one story that exemplifies this research:

Every other week I hold a Girls Circle with my students who are Girls Circle facilitators. It is exciting to hear them talk about how one of their girls made a connection with another girl who she never used to talk to. In one school where we ran a Girls Circle, there were 2 groups of students—the A Group and the B Group. The A group learned at a more accelerated rate, which sometimes caused jealousy and hurt feelings among the girls at the school. Most of the Girls Circles that my students run have a mixture of students from the A group and the B group. Two of the facilitators shared that by the end of the Girls Circle they were running last winter quarter, girls from group A and B were talking as friends instead of rivals. They were so thrilled that they could see that their Girls Circle had truly affected the girls they were working with! We are seeing that allowing young girls to have a safe space to share their thoughts and dreams can greatly affect their attitude toward school, others, and themselves. Letting them see that they are not alone in the things they think about, worry about, and care about can do a great amount for self-esteem and self-efficacy.

This program seems to have a ripple effect in so many ways. The college women have also done Girls Circles with some of their sisters and their friends during breaks and one woman ran one in a juvenile detention center in her hometown. All of the original 11 wanted to keep doing Girls Circle next year in the schools as well as help me train more college women to become Girls Circle facilitators. They just cannot seem to get enough of Girls Circle! Also, as my students talk about it with their peers, they want to know more about Girls Circles and how they can get involved too.

Girls Circle

Due to the excitement of the original women trained, this year 24 more women are currently training to be Girls Circle facilitators and will begin running Girls Circles in more schools and at more agencies in the Columbus area in January 2010. Our goal is to do more assessment, more follow-up, and figure out more ways to positively influence the young girls we are working with. These college women are giving up their time to work to help young girls grow, make better decisions, and take responsibility for their actions. They are helping shape the future for these girls, and I am helping to shape the future for these college women. It is an ongoing, pay-it-forward process that we think will work and benefit many along the way.

I was very blessed to have loving parents and amazing mentors in my life, and I hope for the same for my own daughters and for every young girl in our society. During Girls Circle training, the trainer shares that having just one adult role model in a girl’s life can make a huge difference. The Girls Circle Project is working to put as many adult role models out there as we can and, in turn, touch the lives of as many young girls in the Columbus area as possible.

Vicki Pitstick is Program Manager, University Honors & Scholars Center, The Ohio State University. If you would like more information about The Girls Circle Project or Girls Circle Facilitator training, contact Vicki at pitstick.10@osu.edu or 614/292-1794.


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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Power Pump XL  |  August 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    I always spent my half an hour to read this website’s posts all the time along with a cup of coffee.

  • 2. westlake virtual office  |  April 22, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    You’re so awesome! I do not believe I have read through something like this before. So wonderful to find someone with some unique thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This website is one thing that’s needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

  • 3. astrocenter  |  April 3, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Greetings from Idaho! I’m bored at work so I decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I love the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m
    not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, great site!

    • 4. Beth  |  April 4, 2013 at 5:31 am

      Hi! thank you for your message; we’re happy you visited our blog site. We have a website we’d love you to visit: http://www.onecirclefoundation.org and our FB site “Girls Circle” with the same sunburst/swirl logo shown here on top of our blog page. Thanks and do stay in touch. Circles are awesome for girls, and women!

  • 5. Mariano  |  March 3, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Thank you for your great post! It has long been incredibly valuable.
    I hope that you will proceed sharing your wisdom with us.

  • 6. Cheap Motorbikes  |  March 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Thank you for your amazing post! It has long
    been very helpful. I hope which you will proceed sharing your
    wisdom with us.

  • 7. kofi S  |  July 26, 2011 at 9:28 am

    There is much that young ladies can do if they are really empowered..from creation equals opportuinities was given out to them by the Creator.. You can make it happen..

  • 8. sefakor  |  January 1, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    This is the best axiom. i believe in women empowerment at all levels from the cradle to the lectern , women can make a difference.

  • 9. NANA ABENA AKRASI  |  December 21, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    This is what we need, girls educating girls, girls inspiring and bringing hope to girls. We need ourselves to support ourselves. We can solve our problems best by ourselves.


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