Archive for December, 2009

The First Group Meeting: How to get Buy-In from Participants

We received a great question from a Girls Circle Facilitator in Northern California last week and we wanted to share the response because her challenge is so common whether you’re running Girls Circles or Councils. Here’s the scenario: It was the first group meeting and the kids were talking over each other the whole time, the talking piece was disregarded, they were clowning around and general silliness ensued. This community member acknowledged they only had 35 minutes for Circle – a challenge in itself – and she didn’t have time to let the girls create group agreements (or “guidelines”.) She asked how she could get the kids to focus and be interested in their Circle.

First of all, we want to acknowledge that the first group is always challenging – especially if your participants are mandated to be there. So take it easy on yourself and realize it’s a process. It’s natural for youth who haven’t experienced a Circle or Council to be inattentive because they haven’t bought into the idea of the Circle yet and don’t know what to expect… … …


Continue Reading December 14, 2009 at 7:52 pm Leave a comment

Special Moments and Shining Stars from 2009

As the 2009 year comes to a close, and we reflect on the many people who participated in Girls Circle and The Council trainings, it is with great fondness to recall some special moments and SHINING STARS from our trainings:


Heather Estey of the Boys & Girls Club of Charlotte County and Vicki Cosgrove of Family Violence Outreach in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, CANADA – our first ever Maritime Province training – for their passion, commitment, and GREAT SENSE of HUMOR.  Shout out to David Humphreys, sharing his “space” for our first ever Girls Circle Training in a Funeral Home – Humphreys Community Room and Reception Centre – it was sooooo peaceful and we were so well-attended by the staff there.

Terry Francis Cheechoo of the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy Program came down to St. Stephen from the Tobique First Nation and shared a powerful explanation for using a Talking Piece among aboriginal peoples, taking TIME to speak deeply, from the heart, allowing true voice to find its way from within to be heard among those present.  Thank you Terry, for slowing us down and reminding us that our true voice needs an invitation, a commitment of patience and time, and safety among those in Circle; and that a SACRED talking piece invokes that opportunity.

Fawn Beechum of Des Moines, IA attended the Dubuque, IA Girls Circle training with a passion and motivation to get herself there, pay her own way, and return to Des Moines to start running Girls Circles right away. She took me up on our commitment to support Facilitators, chatting on the phone about creating topics for discussion and activities, how to get the word out, and how to organize her efforts to collaborate with others and start her Circles.  CUDOS to you, Fawn, for your tireless determination!  How lucky those girls are in Des Moines!

Champion HOSTS of Girls Circle Trainings include Terri Drew of Stamford Youth Service Bureau in Connecticut and Christine Henderson Rose of New Jersey Association of County Youth Services Commission continue to host multiple trainings of both Girls Circle, Initial and Advanced, and The Council for Boys & Young Men each year.  These two ladies are PHENOMENAL FORCES in their communities, working with their local governments and commissions to improve services for youth in schools and juvenile justice and supporting the efforts of so many local organizations to get them trained, and working those grant-writing skills to make it all happen.

If we were to award PERSISTENCE, PERSEVERANCE, and PATIENCE – we would bestow this award to the partnership of Carmel Quinn of  The Council:  Girls Scouts of the Green & White Mountains, and Jennifer Hawley of Milton Middle School in Burlington, Vermont for hosting a Girls Circle Training in Essex Junction, VT.  Carmel made several efforts over a couple of years to get to a GCFT and was successful in attending the Dorchester (Boston area) Massachusetts training in late summer 2008.  Inspired to bring it “home” Carmel and Jen teamed up to bring GCFT to Burlington in May and continue their undeniable efforts to bring a Council training to Burlington as well.  This is a lovely part of the country, albeit somewhat remote, in the northern mountains of Vermont not far from the border with Canada.  Thank you for your passion, Carmel and Jen.

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the women who love Girls Circle so much that they became Girls Circle Trainers (and Trainers-in-Training) and hung in there this year, developing their skills and sharing their stories with audiences across the country:  Emma Pavich, formerly of Girls Court, Honolulu, Hawai’i, now in Los Angeles, CA; Doreen Thompson, Community Partners in Action, Hamden, CT; Barbara McIver, former Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Northern Sacramento Valley, CA; Nikki Stokes, a new mom of a beautiful girl, Callie, of OPBI – Ophelia Project/Boys Initiative of Tampa, FL;  Vicki Pitstick of Ohio State University, Honors & Scholars Program, in Columbus, OH; Jennifer Santos from Circles Across Sonoma, Sonoma County, in Cotati, CA; Vanessa Caveney, original Girls Circle member and daughter of Co-Founder, Giovanna Taormina, of San Francisco, CA; and the Youth Learning Institute collaborative/team from Clemson University Girls Center and South Carolina DJJ: Susan Alford, Chief Velvet McGowan, and Liz Morris.  THANK YOU!!!!

We also would like to add a shout out here to some of our small contracts for providers, in-house, like:  Chase Home in Portsmouth NH, Department of Children & Families Juvenile Probation & Parole in Silver City, NM; Eleanor House, West Hartford, CT and the Noank Baptist Home, Noank, CT; Nova Scotia Youth Facility in Wolfville, NS; and Graham-Windham School in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY (to name a few).


We would like to acknowledge the men who led the way for Boys Council to become The Council for Boys and Young Men, sharing their experiences as Facilitators to become Trainers (and Trainers-in-Training) nationwide: Daniel Bland of St. Francis Home for Children in New Haven, CT – our first LEAD trainer; Jason Marque Sole of Minneapolis, MN;  Juan Gomez of San Jose, CA; Mike Condensa from Westwood College in Atlanta, GA; and Nate Pearlman of SAYS (South Arkansas Youth Services) from Texarkana, TX and Texarkana, Arkansas – crossing that little border every day!  These guys have inspired all of us as PHENOMENAL men and role models for boys and young men throughout the country.

Incredible efforts are taking place in Ohio Department of Youth Services in Delaware, OH with the undaunted efforts of our colleague and host, Laura Dolan.

It was a poignant and bittersweet experience to train The Council in Pittsburgh, PA with our host, Mercy Behavioral Health and Jen Ely of Auberle, back in April.  We arrived just days after a brutal domestic violence situation that left four police officers dead.  The mood in our training was somber as many of our participants there knew these police officers and the community was reeling from the impact of this event.  The compassion and grace of the folks from Mercy Behavioral Health, and the most true-to-life Role Play by Malcolm Thomas, was profound and inspired us, as Trainers, just how often our boys and young men experience loss and tragedy in their daily lives.  Thank you for a most humbling and moving memory.

– Kitty Tyrol, Senior Training Manager

December 8, 2009 at 7:28 pm 1 comment

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