YLI logo
Empowered Girls
girls center banner

What is a Girls Circle?

The Girls Circle is a model of structured support groups for girls ages 9 to 18. It is designed to foster self-esteem, help girls maintain authentic connection with peers and adult women in their community, counter trends toward self-doubt, and allow for genuine self-expression through verbal sharing and creative activity. A Girls Circle:

  • Integrates relational theory, resiliency practices and skill building, utilizing a strengths-based approach
  • Increases protective factors, pro-social behaviors, connection, personal skills and strengths, and competence in girls
  • Is recognized as a promising approach in the Model Programs Guide by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • Is utilized nationwide in a broad spectrum of settings with diverse populations since 1994, such as schools, juvenile justice, peer leadership, health education, outdoor adventure, positive youth development, athletics, pregnancy prevention, boys and girls clubs, scouting groups, gang prevention and substance abuse prevention

Girls Circle meetings

  • Led by a female facilitator, Girls Circle groups of 5 to 10 girls meet once weekly for 1 to 2 hours.
  • Girls Circle meetings follow the unique 6-step format of the Girls Circle Model.
  • Girls Circle meetings encourage deep listening, respect, care and support of one another.
  • Guided discussions and creative activities promote girls’ critical thinking about their behaviors and choices.
  • Girls Circle Activity Guides, with gender-relevant topics, are used.
  • Topics include friendship, body image, female identity, stereotypes, trusting self and others, aggression and dating violence, diversity and cultural heritage, relationships, substance abuse and risk behaviors, goal setting, and self-care.
  • Circle guidelines - such as no put-downs or interruptions; offer experiences, not advice; keep the focus on oneself; and show respect for others — are created by the group. Girls share at their own pace.

Results

Research from 2004 to 2007 reveals Girls Circle Model results:

  • Significant increases in self-efficacy, body image and social connection
  • Significant increases in school bonding
  • Significant decreases in alcohol use and self-destructive behaviors
  • Significant increases in improved friendship selections and behavior, positive peer interactions and peer satisfaction
  • Significant increases in communicating needs to adults