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It Was a Busy End of Summer for Girls RAP

By Britani Baker, YWCA of Minneapolis Girls RAP Youth Counselor
September 8, 2014
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The Girls RAP program wowed even the staff the week of August 11. As we reached the end of the end of summer, we were able to get a few big events accomplished in just a week. As you may know, Girls RAP is known for putting their girls first and putting forth the effort to make sure our girls are successful and that they feel as though they belong. No matter what’s happened in the past, they know by the end the end of their journey with us that it’s all about how you improve yourself and use that to move forward.

Let’s get back to what’s happened in this crazy week, shall we? The week was known as “12-14-16.” On August 12, two of our groups and staff went on a field trip to the Richfield Swimming Pool and to Old Country Buffet for dinner afterward. What a beautiful day it was! The two groups had never met before the field trip, but you would’ve never guessed that by the way they all got along so well, laughing, swimming together, and enjoying each other’s company. The same group of girls graduated, 18 successful completions, on August 14. They were all excited to see one another! I personally love graduation time — not because groups are finally over — but to look back on how each girl has transformed through the 12 weeks of group. Each girl has her own story, and it takes a strong Youth Counselor to ask a participant, “What’s Your Story?”

Getting to meet Lynx star Seimone Augustus

Our week of wonder doesn’t stop there! August 16 was the biggest day of the week. Girls RAP hosted our Annual Leadership Retreat. This year, we decided to do something a little different. Instead of full-day workshops, we took our girls to the Minnesota Lynx Game! That’s right! We attended one of the biggest nights of the season, Member Appreciation Night. A total of 23 participants, plus staff, had the opportunity to watch the shoot around before the game, meet some of the players and get autographs. I too got signatures from the one-and-only Maya Moore and from Seimone Augustus from the Minnesota Lynx! After the game, we all came back to the Downtown YWCA of Minneapolis for an overnight stay. Girls enjoyed playing basketball and dancing. Racial Justice Community and Civic Engagement Specialist Tiphanie “PH” Copeland spoke to our girls about self-image, the media and how it relates to race, a topic the girls chose to discuss. They also engaged in a scavenger hunt throughout the YWCA facility, before having breakfast and giving feedback the morning after. Before the retreat concluded that Sunday morning, they all received an L.L. Bean backpack full of school supplies that we’d put together.

Wow! What a week, right? We continue to work with our girls for up to a year (or more) after they’ve graduated. So what’s next for Girls RAP? We will be starting a few groups this fall and inviting girls to join us in our annual visit to the Shakopee Women’s Prison. This is an opportunity for women to talk with our girls and tell them their own stories, encouraging our girls to make good decisions.

I thank my co-worker, La’Kisha Hollmon-Griffin, for working with me, and supporting me through this challenging month of events and groups. I’d also like to officially welcome our newest Girls RAP team member, Soua Pha. As she gets prepared for the school year, La’Kisha and I will support her in starting her journey with our girls.