Our four program facilitators have worked hard over the past several months to complete a brand-new standards-based and age-appropriate Social Emotional Learning Curriculum for girls, trans and nonbinary youth age 10-15.
Sadie Ciccia-Strain, Michele Drake Hyde, Lena Grover, and Areya Kugler used their pedagogical skills and knowledge to re-design our Empowerment Program in alignment with the Washington State Health Education k-12 Standards and the Washington State Social Emotional Learning Standards.
Why do we need an Empowerment program?
Being raised as a girl in our current society can cause a specific skill deficit. Typically, girls are socialized to be quiet, unassertive, and compliant. This expectation often means they have difficulty advocating for themselves, setting boundaries, feeling comfortable in their bodies, and trusting their intuition. We know that through education, mentorship, and skill-building, we can inspire youth to be more confident, resilient, and resourceful.
Youth in our program will develop confidence through self-expression, self-care, cultivating positive relationships, exploring responsibility, and building resilience.
Each program day includes one or more art therapy projects. While our Empowerment program has always included daily art, our projects are now more intentional and tied to our thematic learning. We created our projects by adapting those recommended by certified art therapists.
In five-day programs, participants will explore their responsibilities to their communities and our home, planet Earth. We will provide rotating opportunities for three service learning projects to benefit fellow community members experiencing homelessness or non-human neighbors who share our ecosystem. This experience will create opportunities for our participants to be truly empowered to make a difference in their community.
Our curriculum team put a lot of consideration into the skills we believe youth will most benefit from learning. We focused on a handful of skills that girls typically feel disempowered to use or have not had the chance to learn in an approachable way. Youth will learn and have opportunities to practice identifying aspects of unhealthy relationships, fire building, and using confident and assertive phrases (for example, removing apologies and recognizing subliminal conditioning to avoid the perception of being aggressive).
We are listening to feedback from our participants. While we still plan to invite guest speakers, we intend to reduce the overall number of guest speakers in our programs. This change is possible because we now have four facilitators with unique skills, knowledge, and strengths. Rather than depend on lectures from guest speakers, we have shifted our approach to curricula centered on team-building and group problem-solving. We know from experience that hands-on learning will be more impactful and engaging.
Research-based Mindfulness Techniques
Mindfulness has been at the heart of Empowerment programs since our inception. This year, we have committed to modeling and teaching strategies supported by scientific research. We also applied feedback from our program participants about which activities were more enjoyable and helpful and were sure to emphasize them.
Great news for those who have already experienced a prior iteration of the Empowerment program: The program will be updated and improved each year moving forward!
We have committed to an annual curriculum renewal process, meaning that we will continue to update our curriculum using feedback from youth participants and families. We invite participants and families to provide feedback via electronic form after youth have attended our program, but we would also be grateful to hear feedback at any time. You can email our Executive Director of Operations at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit our program registration page if you want your child to experience this program first-hand.