Sister Circles

A Peacemaking Project by Andrea L.

What is the injustice we are solving?

Mission To create connection and support among young women in order to heal, grow, and contribute Vision We see a healthy, thriving, sustainable world nurtured by the recognition and celebration of women’s contributions to humanity Target Audience Young women aged 12-18 Program Goals To provide young women with a safe space to heal, grow, and contribute. To create community that honors the personal paths of young women though exposure to healing arts, movement practices, yoga, creative writing, and mindfulness. Young women will have opportunities to create visions for their highest desires. They will have a safe and nurturing place in which to grow. They will have exposure to healing modalities and creative expression. They will have support of peers and access to leadership. Ultimately, they will be empowered to make decisions for their own future. Needs Statement We live in a culture that has not completely recognized that women are people. Many young women have been through trauma and lack the access to mental health services providing individual counseling. Many lack the resources for other healing modalities such as arts, dance, yoga, writing, and individual expression. In the 2017 State of Mental Health Report from Mental Health America: 50% of depressed youth think of suicide or self harm Over 76% of depressed youth don’t get treated 1.7 million young people who experience depression are not getting treated While Sister Circles do not replace the need for high-quality comprehensive mental health care, it does work to bridge the gap and supplement any current resources. Because of the group model, it achieves the program goals at much less cost than individual therapy. Methods We aim to achieve our goals by creating and nurturing sister circles. Each circle would consist of 10-12 young women. Groups meet weekly in any setting: after-school program, park district program, or faith-based program. Who would run it: Following an introductory training period, the youth participants themselves will take on the responsibility of facilitating the group meetings. Adult supervision will be present, either in a teacher mentor presence, part-time trained staff paid at least $15/hr, local women from the community that they are serving, trained counselors, social workers, lay leaders, or volunteers. Who would fund it: Grants, Foundations, parent contributions for those who can pay, scholarships for those who can’t, PTO fundraisers, individual schools or districts Group Agenda Social Time - gathering, eating a snack, enjoy unstructured time Centering Exercise - meditation, mindfulness Opening/Invocation - recite the sisterhood pledge and group expectations Check Ins - go around the circle and give everyone a chance to speak (2 minute limit) Reading/Discussion - introduce theme, provide reading, reflection, and questions Exercise - dance, yoga, writing, art, any healing modality that enriches the theme Wrap Up - provide any take home tools or follow up steps Business - preparations for next meeting Closing/Benediction - practicing gratitude Extension Activities Groups are encouraged to enrich their exercise period with local interest. This provides an opportunity to express regional culture, ethnicities, and traditions. Any activity the group likes is appropriate in order to authentically develop community. Examples of extension activities: Visual Arts: quilting, knitting, needlework, art journaling, Soul Collage, mural painting, puppet making, jewelry making Somatic Arts: 5 Rhythms, Nia, Alexander technique, Feldenkrais, yoga, tai chi, qigong, aikido Therapeutic Music: kirtan, chanting, singing, drumming Creative Writing: journaling, poetry, playwriting, essays, fiction, nonfiction, writing the soul