YWCA of Alton’s youth programs are designed to encourage young people to engage in self-discovery, build meaningful relationships with peers while empowering them to be the change agent for their futures.
YWCA of Alton provides access to youth programs and services at little or no cost to families.
Whether it is Community Tutoring, Girls Who Code, Girls Circle or other activities, YWCA of Alton programming supports healthy development of our youth while providing opportunities to connect with others and increase awareness of social justice issues connected to YWCA of Alton mission.
Community Tutoring program is an annual program aimed at preventing summer learning loss in reading and math offered in the summer for children who have completed kindergarten and runs through the 5th grade located at YWCA of Alton. Community Tutoring Program, coordinated by Candace Wallace, a certified teacher with the Alton School District, is staffed by area teachers from local school districts and volunteers, including high school students.
The program is held once a week for a total of six weeks of instruction. Instruction is held for each grade level. Children are provided with reading and math instruction, served small meals, and participate in enrichment activities each session. The seventh week typically consists of a celebration for the youth with games, activities, food and prizes.
While very popular with area youth, the Community Tutoring program results are positive with Community Tutoring staff noting improved attitudes towards learning and confidence levels.
This program also provides an opportunity for high school students to give back to the community by providing volunteer with real world experiences that can help with later employment or career goals, develop strong communication and leadership skills, and build confidence in their ability to make a difference.
The Community Tutoring program has been funded with grants from the Alton Foundation and the Alton Community Service League and is free of charge.
YWCA of Alton facilitates a Girls Who Code after school program for middle school girls in the 21st Century program at the Alton Middle School for the Alton School District. Girls Who Code was founded by Reshma Saujani with a single mission of closing the gender gap in technology.
Girls learn coding basics, build exciting projects, and develop strong relationships with their peers and the YWCA of Alton Girls Who Code Facilitator, Tamarua Smith.
With computing jobs the most sought after fields in the national market and demand growing 3 times the national average, many girls are left behind. With less than a quarter of computing jobs held by women, Alton School District and YWCA of Alton recognize the need to reverse this decline locally and prepare our daughters for tomorrow’s jobs.
Middle schoolers are offered a safe and supportive environment with their peers to learn and see themselves as computer scientists. Girls learns the basics of loops, variables, conditionals and functions that form the basis for all programming languages. In 2018, middle school girls developed an anti-bullying app as part of the Girls Who Code program.
Registration for Girls Who Code club for the 2019-2020 school year is pending.
What is Girls Circle?
The Girls Circle model, a structured support group for girls and youth who identify with female development 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.
YWCA of Alton, using the Girls Circle Curriculum, 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.
The Girls Circle does not aim to provide advice, but encourages girls to share experiences that are helpful to one another. To participate, girls need only have the desire, make a commitment to attend the meetings, and agree to follow the circle guidelines, i.e. respect, no put-downs or interruptions, offer experiences – not advice, keep the focus on oneself, and keep what’s said in the group private. Girls are free to share at their own pace.
Girls Circle Format
The Girls Circle Activity Guides are designed to help Girls Circle Facilitators’ set a safe, creative environment and provide weeks of age-appropriate themes and activities.
Girls Circles are most often held weekly for 1 1/2 to two hours. Each week the Facilitator leads the group of girls through a format that includes each girl taking turns talking and listening to one another respectfully about their concerns and interests. The girls express themselves further through creative or focused activities such as role playing, drama, journaling, poetry, drama, dance, drawing, collage, clay, and so on. Gender specific themes and topics are introduced which relate to the girls’ lives, such as being a girl, trusting ourselves, friendships, body image, goals, sexuality, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, competition, and decision-making.
Click here for the Girls Circle Activity Guide details.
Giving Voice to Feelings
When girls voice their ideas and opinions in a safe environment, it strengthens their confidence and self-esteem and encourages them to express themselves more fully and critically think through their behavior and choices. By examining cultural expectations in a safe and supportive setting, girls gain greater awareness of their options and strengthen their ability to make choices that are consistent with their values, interests, and talents.
Learn More About Girls Circles in the Riverbend
YWCA of Alton began utilizing the Girls Circle Curriculum in January, 2019. Three Girls Circles have been in operation to date. Two Girls Circles were held at the Alton Middle School during the 2018-19 school year. Two additional Girls Circles have been meeting regularly at YWCA.
YWCA of Alton has utilized several local women as Facilitators: Felicia Alexander, Alton Middle School staff person, Jessica Everage, Masters in Social Work, and Sherry McGrady, Masters in Psychological Counseling. The Friendship and Being a Girl Guides have been successfully used by the various Circles. New Guides will be used in the future although all Girls Circles starting up will begin with the Friendship and Being a Girl units.
YWCA of Alton anticipates continuing the Girls Circle programs during the 2019-2020 school year, both at YWCA, area schools and at other possible locations.
Interested in Starting A Girls Circle?
Please contact YWCA of Alton Executive Director at 618.465.7774 regarding setting up a Girls Circle program in your community.
Testimonials from YWCA of Alton Girls Circle Members