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The mission of A Company of Girls is to "strengthen and empower girls and thier families, and to foster community through the arts."
A Company of Girls (ACOG) is an award-winning, nationally recognized after school theater & arts prevention program for low income, high-risk and special needs girls ages 8-18 that has been serving the Greater Portland community for the past fifteen years. The mission of our organization is to "strengthen and empower girls and their families and to foster community through the arts." The program is free and provides transportation for girls and their families to meeting dates and field trips. ACOG's five staff members work to directly serve approximately 250 community members--from girls to the families that love them.
ACOG's quality programming shapes young women into the civically responsible and creative future leaders who will make positive changes in our communities. To accomplish this goal, ACOG staff rigorously work to generate a curriculum based in the arts and theater that encourages the building of confidence and self-esteem in order for girls to discover, develop and use their unique and valuable voice; the arts and theater have proven positive results for children in their development as successful, independent adults. "High quality arts lessons have been found to have an impact on character understanding, comprehension of character motivation, increased peer to peer interactions, increased conflict resolution skills, and improved problem solving dispositions (Catterall 2002).
Through our arts programming, we provide girls the necessary skills to make positive, healthy life choices and ultimately avoid detrimental youth behavior. Girls learn appropriate behaviors, conflict resolution and coping methods, and how to build resiliency. Girls learn many of these skills by employing creative processes to develop their teamwork, abstract thinking and verbal and visual communication skills. ACOG fosters positive peer, family and community relationships that build morale and self-esteem, while eliminating the restrictive social walls that so many girls struggle against.
ACOG participants are divided into two groups based on age. The younger fledgling group consists of girls ages 8-10, and the Ensemble, girls ages 11-18. Each group of girls meets with staff two days a week for approximately two hours each day in the former Amistad Cal lCenter at the Irish Heritage Center located in Portland. Programming begins in the middle of October and runs until the middle of June, following the Portland Public Schools calendar. ACOG also engages girls each year in summer programming--from pool parties to summer camp.
ACOG seeks to work with girls over a period of several years. It has been found that there is a longer arch and likelihood of positive long-term outcomes when girls are reached at an early age; the younger we are able to engage girls in the program, the longer they stay in ACOG and the mores successful they are at home, at school and in their communities. The average girl remains in the program for at least 3-5 years with some remaining as many as 9.
- Devin Dukes
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