Girls Circle support group

Tonya Kent, center, laughs with the girls in the after school program Girls Circle as they discuss body image at the Matt Garcia Center in Fairfield. (Daily Republic/Conner Jay)


Adult volunteers helping young women with life choices

By From page A1 | February 25, 2013

FAIRFIELD — Sally Silvia, Tonya Kent, Ana Espino and Rhuvenette Alums believe that girls, especially teenage girls, need a little bit of guidance to help them make good decisions.

With all the issues that face teenage girls today – from body image to relationships to family life – it can be difficult for young women to find themselves, Kent said.

“I didn’t have a voice until I found who I was,” Kent said.

Silvia said what these girls don’t need is an authoritative figure telling them what to do nor should they aspire to be somebody else. They just need somebody to talk to, somebody who will hear them but won’t judge them and won’t breach their confidentiality. They also need somebody who has been where they’ve been and grown from their life choices.

Silvia, Kent, Espino and Alums are all fully grown adults – though they preferred not to share their ages – who said they have made good and bad life decisions and learned from them. They said it took them a while, however, to have a good sense of self. They said they don’t want young women today to wait until their 40s, 50s and 60s to get their life together.

The Matt Garcia Youth Center holds a weekly confidential meeting called Girls Circle where teenage girls ages 13 to 17 can discuss various issues affecting them in a safe and confidential environment.

The group is funded by Soroptimist International of Central Solano County, and Silvia and Alums are members. Kent and Espino are volunteers for Girls Circle along with Nowell Darwazeh and Erica Sanders.

The group meets one hour on Wednesdays to discuss different topics. The volunteers teach a pre-planned curriculum from the One Circle Foundation. Currently the group is discussing the topic of body image. Over several weeks, the group will discuss body image in the media and also body image and self esteem.

Every meeting begins with the girls discussing their high points and low points of the week. Their highs might be as simple as eating ice cream or being on time for school. But the lows can sometimes bring out the emotions. The volunteers, offering their support, said they hope the girls don’t have these lows, but they encourage the confidential discussion.

The experience can be cathartic for a lot of the girls, Espino said.

“It gets emotional,” she said. “But it helps take them to a new step of healing.”

The meetings have helped many of the girls become more comfortable with themselves.

Kalia Wells, for example, was fairly new to the group but through the meetings she hoped “to control myself . . . and to talk to people and not be scared.”

Jaybriana Jacobs likes how comfortable she feels with the other girls in the group.

“I like how when you come here you can’t be judged by what you say,” she said.

Just having a person or persons to talk to without fear of judgment can go so far in helping young women, Alums said.

“It bothers me so many women can’t be themselves,” she said. “Any piece I can do to pass more wisdom along I’ll do.”

To join Girls Circle, call the Matt Garcia Youth Center at 249-1379.

Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.

Heather Ah San

Heather Ah San

Heather Ah San covers Rio Vista, features and general news for the Daily Republic. She received her bachelors of art degree from the University of Oregon.

Discussion | 1 comment

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  • Jane JensenFebruary 25, 2013 - 4:43 am

    This is a great way to encourage the women and make them self confident ... If the women will be strong then she can hold the whole family very strongly.For a women self protection and self confidence is most important.if this type of programs will be continued then women will get more chance to be open and chose their own way.

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