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The YWCA YWTeen Program is for 5th and 6th grade girls, ages 10-12. These little girls experience so many socioeconomic problems: early sexual activity, teen pregnancy, exposure to drugs, gangs and bullying, fractured families from whom they may receive little direction and recognition, and especially they lack strong female adult role models to help steer them to wiser, stronger decisions and plans for a future. They are children, and they need guidance and support.
This is where the YWTeen Program steps in. Modeled on the nationally researched Girls Circle program, YWTeen Program teaches girls how to
- respect their bodies;
- consider current actions and possible future outcomes and risks;
- develop strong relationships with their peers and treat people respectfully, especially people who are different from themselves;
- deal with bullies and how to avoid becoming a bully, as well as alternative methods of resolving problems;
- become a leader in the peer group; and especially,
- formulate goals and dreams for their lives, both in the present and in the future.
YWTeens helps these girls take pride in day-to-day accomplishments like doing their homework. The exercises and lessons help them to see how they influence each other and their larger group. YWTeens provides positive feedback for their successes. It helps them learn how to dream and how to pursue those dreams.
The year-round program provides weekly classes on school campuses. This takes the program directly to the girls. They also have holiday and Summer Leadership Camps, Holiday Shop in December, and Saturday swims at YWCA. Trips to cultural enrichment events such as the ballet, and Reading Rally, cohosted by Executive Women International, expand their horizons. At Leadership Camps, the girls receive input and mentoring from successful women from all walks of life. This mentoring teaches them that they, too, can become successful and make a valuable contribution to their peer groups, families, school environment and society.
The success rate is significant for the YWTeen Program. Most recent data indicates that 95% of the participants learned social and interpersonal skills and learned to accept others and reject bullying. This means that the YWTeen Program helps create girls who are centered and grounded, assured of their value, learning to speak up for themselves, and who act with increased self-confidence.