Sage Circle gives teen-age girls a place to talk |

Sage Circle gives teen-age girls a place to talk

by Merrie Leininger

Teen-age girls who are looking for a safe place to discuss their problems now have another resource.

Sage Circle is a discussion group for girls ages 14-16 that will allow girls to develop the self-confidence to make the right decisions for them.

The group sprang from a group of 13-14 year-old girls who were brought together by Kelli Taylor of Juvenile Probation and Martie Graham-Jones of Family Support Council in November. The group was formed after Taylor and Graham-Jones wanted to provide a community resource for girls.

“There are many programs out there for girls at risk, but not for average girls who are just having a hard time transitioning into the teen years,” Graham-Jones said.

She and Taylor went to a conference on facilitating girls’ circles and two weeks later the group had begun.

“We started with four girls and four women. That group went for 10 weeks and we just started again with nine teens, so that more than doubled,” she said.

Out of that group, Shaunda Vasey of Juvenile Probation and and Claudia Bertolone-Smith, a Douglas County teacher decided to expand and formed a group on 14-16 year-olds. Vasey said they are looking for girls interested in the discussion group now.

“It’s not counseling,” she said. “It’s more of a place the girls can come voluntarily and it is a safe place to hear themselves and others and hear what’s working for other girls.”

The group talks about and does projects to illustrate their ideas about friendship and discovering positive female role models. Vasey said they also will allow the girls to make decisions about what topics to discuss.

“We will discuss it and also have an initiative for the girls to solve. One is called a cooperation tarp. We lay a tarp on he ground and give them five seconds to all get on the tarp,” Vasey said. “It’s not hard, but then we fold the tarp in half and continue to make it smaller and smaller. Then we ask them to talk about what worked and what didn’t. Did they have to make decisions like letting one person go?”

Vasey said she hopes the group gives the girls a “sense of their inner voice and a chance to express that voice in different situations.”

She said the group also gives girls a fresh perspective on problems. The group has surprised her so far by the girls’ discussion of the same problems older women also have, she said.

“We’re really not that different,” she said.

Graham-Jones said the 13-14 year-old group is the “highlight of my week.”

She said the girls have surprised her with their initiative and creativity. They asked for and got, control over one session and did a whole program on how it feels to be stereotyped.

The girls wrote characteristics on index cards and each person had a card on their forehead without knowing what was written on it.

When they walked around the room, the people they encountered treated them in response to the characteristic written on their card.

“People would treat you like what your label was. Then the girls sat down and talked about how it felt when they are treated that way,” she said.

Graham-Jones said the group is unique in the community and the girls have responded well to it.

“They see it as something out of the ordinary. They tell me it’s a really safe place and they leave feeling so much better,” Graham-Jones said.

For more information about the 14-16 year-olds group, call Shaunda Vasey at 782-9827.