Sister Circle Support group empowers young women
Aidan Janssen, Reporter & Designer
In a time of high levels of stress, many look to friends and family for guidance. However, not everyone has that opportunity, so some look to their community.
Sister Circle is a club designed to offer mutual support to the young women that comprise it. The program began in January and is run by art teacher Kristen Dallum and Neighborcare clinic manager Stephanie Keller.
Dallum first got the idea to create Sister Circle from yearbook teacher Nicky Wilks’s all-male support club, Journeymen.
“When I first moved to the island, I met Nicky Wilks … and connected with him during teacher trainings, and he was telling me about the work that Journeymen was doing,” Dallum said.
Dallum has had experience working in similar programs since 2010.
“I have been doing the same style of work in other places, but I had never done it in a gendered-specific way,” Dallum said. “I started that conversation with several other women on the island about making this happen for women of all ages.”
While these discussions have been going on for over a year, the first student meeting was held in early January.
The program currently has about 20 members operating within a format called a “circle.” In the circle, a ring of students sits together, and each girl has the option to answer some form of a question or prompt.
“The circle format is a way of offering equal voice, equal air time to all perspectives present,” Dallum said. “Each time we meet, we restate and agree to certain practices to allow us to honor each person’s voice and perspective.”
Dallum and Keller’s role in the program is to help facilitate the meetings with the students. Sister Circle is also available at McMurray and Chautauqua. The program’s goal is to connect the schools together by providing events and activities for the members.
“I have definitely learned that it’s okay to share with people, and that sharing with people … gives you a good support,” member Luna Bella Galinos-Salinas said. “I’ve definitely been through things that I didn’t think that I could share to people … It was nice to get that support from all the girls around me that I never knew had actually been through some similar experiences.”
Sister Group has been equally beneficial to its other members.
“I think that I learned that there’s a lot of people around you that you don’t realize that are going through almost the same thing or maybe even worse,” member McKenna Teachout said. “I had no idea that I was surrounded by all these amazing people who have gone through so much stuff… It’s a lot to be, like, ‘Hey, I’ll tell you my story if you tell me your story.’”
Meetings take place during SMART periods, sometimes more than once a week. Students thinking about joining Sister Circle should speak with Dallum or the other students involved. All are welcome to visit or participate in meetings.