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Girls RAP Participants Showcase Success at Graduation

By Chelsea Knox, Youth Counselor, Girls RAP (Resolution and Prevention)
June 15, 2017
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Girls Resolution and Prevention (RAP) is an intervention program that works annually with 125 girls, ages 12 through 18, who have a first, low-level juvenile offense. Program participants resolve their offense and stay out of the criminal justice system permanently by building skills and motivation for positive life choices. Girls complete an intensive 12-week intervention group and participate in 12 months of aftercare support from RAP youth counselors.

Family and Friends Attend Girls RAP Graduation

After successfully completing the program, Girls RAP participants take part in a graduation ceremony. Friends and family are invited to attend graduation and see what the graduates accomplished. At the most recent graduation last month, each girl spoke in front of the large group about her experience in Girls RAP.

Overcoming Challenges

The girls shared challenges they overcame while in the group, including making friends, expressing feelings and changing the choices they made.

The graduates shared their opinions of Girls RAP, calling the program:

  • Positive
  • Needed
  • Educational
  • Amazing
  • A good place for young women

Guest Speaker, Past Graduate

One guest at graduation was a graduate of a previous Girls RAP group. She spoke after the current graduates finished their presentations. She recalled her transformation while in Girls RAP: “I was fighting. I was out of control. I was crazy. The program helped me express myself. This program turned me into a young lady. They helped me graduate from high school and then I went on to graduate from college as a community health worker.”

Each graduate prepared a presentation to share what they learned in the program.

“If I could sum up Girls RAP in one word it would be ‘needed’. In Girls RAP I learned how to open up to people. My favorite session was when the women came from the prison because I learned from what they were telling me and the things that they were talking about made me think. I would tell my friends and family that we talk a lot in Girls RAP. The most challenging thing that I overcame was opening up and going to school more.”

“If I could sum up Girls RAP in one word it would be ‘interesting’. In Girls RAP I learned about authority power. My favorite session was the when we played Jeopardy! about sexual education because it was fun and interesting. If I could tell my friends and family about the Girls RAP program I would tell them that it was really interesting. The most challenging thing that I have overcome is making friends.”

“Just Because” Poems

Each graduate also shared a “just because” poem, describing the stereotypes she faces in her everyday life and how she defies those stereotypes.

Below are some examples from participants:

 “Just because I’m Native American doesn’t mean I live in a teepee, it doesn’t mean I’m a drunk, it means I am me. Just because I’m Mexican doesn’t mean I speak Spanish, it doesn’t mean I’m dark, it means I am me. Just because I’m a teenager doesn’t mean I’m loud, it doesn’t mean I’m disrespectful, it means I am living, I am me, I am right now.”

“Just because I’m loud doesn’t mean that I know everything that I’m talking about, doesn’t mean I’m rude, doesn’t mean I talk too much, it means I want to be heard. Just because I’m a Muslim doesn’t mean I’m a terrorist or that I’m going to become one, doesn’t mean I get scared of everyone that is a Muslim, doesn’t mean I wear my hijab all the time, it means I have beliefs. Just because I stay out late, doesn’t mean I smoke weed, doesn’t mean I’m always with boys, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, it means I have fun with my friends and I forget what time it is.”

Graduation was a wonderful chance for Girls RAP participants to showcase their successes and receive support from their family and friends as they move forward in life and continue to make positive choices. Congratulations Girls RAP Graduates!