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Article of Interest - Summer Programs

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Bridges4Kids LogoAlternatives For Girls Offers Summer Program for 80 girls in Southwest Detroit in grades K-7
Detroit Free Press, May 1, 2003
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It's not easy being a schoolgirl these days, and when you live in an area where kids drop out of school at an alarming rate and girls often become pregnant at an early age, it's even tougher.

That's where Alternatives for Girls comes in.

The nonprofit organization's summer program, based in southwest Detroit, is designed to give girls from kindergarten through the seventh grade the courage and skills to make good lives for themselves.

"It's a nice mix of learning things in a fun way," says Judy Vindici, director of the neighborhood prevention program.

"They're challenged, but it's always a nice kind of stretch."

The program runs three days a week for 6 weeks and has activities for different age groups.

Tuesdays are devoted to athletics.

On Wednesdays, the youngest girls work on reading and learning to get along with their classmates, while the middle school group of girls read a book, rewrite it into play form, design costumes and scenery and act in the play or make puppets to act in it.

Last year, when she was 11, Vanessa Martinez made puppets.

"Mine were a girl and a sheep," she says.

The oldest girls talk about how they are going to make the transition to high school and make their dreams come true.

Everyone ends the day in jewelry-making, cooking or learning how to baby-sit.

The older girls are given life-size dolls programmed to be as annoying as a baby can be, and each must meet all her doll's needs for a couple of days.

"I had a girl call three hours after she was issued the doll begging us to take it away," Vindici says.

Thursdays are for field trips.

What Vanessa, a good swimmer, liked best was a trip to a water park.

"They had water slides, one where where you need a float and one where you don't," she says. "And there was a wave pool."

The program is open to 80 girls in southwest Detroit, first come, first served.

"We have a waiting list every single year," Vindici says.

The program is run jointly with the nonprofit Mercy Education Project, and last year, two of the teachers were women who had been in the program as girls.

Vanessa doesn't know whether she'll go back as an adult, but she knows what she wants to be when she grows up.

"I'm going to be a lawyer," she said firmly. By Jeanne May

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call Alternatives for Girls at 313-361-4000, ext. 275.

WISH LIST

80 swimming class supplies / $17 each

40 drama and puppet supplies / $25 each

80 arts and crafts materials / $28 each

80 classroom books, tutoring materials / $16.50 each

Meals and snacks for 80 girls for 19 days / $4 per girl per day

80 T-shirts / $10.50 each

25 birdhouse building materials and supplies / $20 each

80 field trip admissions / $15 each

Transportation costs / Six 8-hour weeks at $35 an hour

Field trip buses 7 trips, 2 buses / $2,940

80 photography class materials / $5 each

Sports facility costs / $2,500

    

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