GREATER WESTFIELD-A free “Make New Friends” virtual event series, sponsored by Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts and Girl Scouts of the USA, is available for all girls starting kindergarten this fall.
The series is designed to ensure all girls are prepared to start kindergarten with confidence, noted Dana Carnegie, communications manager, Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts (GSCWM).
“The COVID-19 pandemic and transition to virtual learning and activities has disrupted important educational milestones, particularly for children entering kindergarten this year,” said Carnegie. “Knowing that social and emotional learning and development are some of the strongest predictors of academic success and healthy relationships, Girl Scouts has designed fun activities for girls to meet these critical milestones.”
The virtual four-part event series will be offered on Tuesdays, Sept. 8, 15, 22 and 29 from 6-6:30 p.m.; on Thursdays, Sept. 10, 17, 24 and Oct. 1 from 6-6:30 p.m.; on Mondays, Sept. 14, 21, 28 and Oct. 5 from 6-6:30 p.m., and on Wednesdays, Sept. 16, 23, 30 and Oct. 7, from 6-6:30 p.m.
“The series will be led by our staff along with a trained volunteer,” said Tammy Gilpatrick, GSCWM community development manager. “Parents will receive some brief information prior to the start of the series in order to prepare their girl so she knows what to expect.”
Westfield resident Heather Huizenga is volunteering her time to help the GSCWM staff facilitate the series. She recently facilitated eight sessions of the “Make New Friends” program with the Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast.
“I really enjoy helping the Girl Scouts as much as possible,” said Huizenga, who is a co-leader of Daisy Troop 65088. “They do great work with girls without any sort of strings attached. All the girls who have done this program so far have really loved it. It’s been a great way for girls to connect at a time where making new friends is incredibly difficult.”
Carnegie noted that social and emotional learning is important for success in kindergarten, and as the experts on girls’ leadership and development, Girl Scouts is “uniquely poised” to lead fun and impactful events that help girls make new friends while boosting their social skills, self-confidence, and experience in a classroom or virtual setting.
The specialized, engaging event series will offer practice interacting with other girls, exploring new ideas, and gaining the courage to ask questions about what they see, according to Carnegie.
“The series will also explore emotions and learn how being persistent can help them achieve their dreams,” said Carnegie. “The series will also help girls use their senses to process the world around them while practicing reasoning and problem-solving skills, and learn how to listen to a story, identify key characters, follow a plot line, and then share what they learned.”
For parents who wish to enroll their daughter in the free series, visit www.girlscouts.org/ready and enter your zip code.
“After parents enter their zip code they are given choices of times and dates to choose from,” said Gilpatrick. “When they make their selection they are directed to an Eventbrite page to provide their information. Then we will communicate with them on the details and the secure Zoom link.”
Gilpatrick added that each session will have a unique and secure Zoom ID.
“All sessions will have two trained and background checked adults on at all times,” said Gilpatrick. “The moderator has full control to mute and unmute all participants.”
Gilpatrick noted that to ensure the groups are kept small so that girls are able to “fully engage during the session,” early registration is advised.
For more information on GSCWM, call (413) 584-2602 or visit www.gscwm.org.