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Circle of Sisters

Strong Women

Circle of Sisters is a strategic initiative providing safe, fun after-school program for at-risk girls, age 9 to 14, that promotes healthy decision-making for youth, instills self-esteem, confidence, and positive values. It is currently offered in Guerneville, Sonoma, Rohnert Park, and Santa Rosa.

Girls at Risk

Fun and friends are the immediate draw for girls who take part in Circle of Sisters. But when St. Joseph Health – Sonoma County created this free after-school program in 2000, it had a bigger agenda: decreasing female juvenile violence—a big problem in Sonoma County. "When girls ages 9 –14 don’t learn good decision-making skills and don’t have an appropriate outlet for their emotions, they may end up using drugs and alcohol, acting out violently, or doing things they don’t want to do because they don’t have the confidence to say no," says Amy Chevrolet, program supervisor for Circle of Sisters. "That’s why Circle of Sisters is so important. We’ve created a safe and nurturing environment where girls can explore issues, connect with peers, enhance their self-esteem and confidence, and learn social and life skills."

Positive Results

At sites across Sonoma County girls meet once a week for Circle of Sisters. A session typically begins with a journaling exercise, in which the girls write about a topic such as trust, conflict resolution, peer pressure, or body image. Then they form a circle and share their experiences. "This develops their confidence," says Chevrolet. "They discover that they have something important to share."

The session continues with other activities—from cooking or yoga to guest speakers on everything from sexual assault prevention to photography. The girls help each other with their homework. "We’re giving them an opportunity to feel empowered and have a sense of belonging," says Chevrolet.

Feedback on the program has been overwhelmingly positive. "Parents have told me that their daughters know how to handle conflicts better and get in fewer fights," says Chevrolet.

Circle of Sisters is part of the Community Benefit Department of St. Joseph Health-Sonoma County. To learn more about the program, please visit the Circle of Sisters web site or contact Amy Chevrolet at (707) 525-5311.