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Children & Youth Programs

Children & Youth Programs: Text

Early Steps

Everyday interactions between children, their parents or caregivers provide many opportunities to give children from every background a more equal start in life. When parents talk, sing, play and discover with their children, they help build their child's understanding of the world and their vocabulary. The more words a child knows, the greater the chance for success in school.

This program provides opportunities for volunteers, parents, and children to share and learn ways to build vocabulary through stories, songs, nature discovery and other interesting activities. The group meets for 10 weeks in the fall and 10 weeks in the spring.


Elementary Mentoring

In this program, volunteers and students interact one-on-one or in small groups, reading together, journal writing, creating and working on collaborative projects. This is a structured program facilitated by staff and focused on student social emotional development, building resilience, and developing literacy skills. The program takes place afterschool at two Title I elementary schools throughout the school year. In addition, the groups come together at Asbury for a few opportunities to dine in one of the dining halls and to go on a field trip together. The Mentoring program is in its 10th year and is the cornerstone program of GBCI.


Middle School Mentoring

This program engages Gaithersburg Middle School (GMS) students and volunteers in the art-making process to facilitate dialogue, collaboration, and reflection. The goal is to provide students with a high-level art experience resulting in opportunities to develop new skills, increase confidence and nurture cognitive, social, and personal growth. GBCI volunteers meet at GMS after school throughout the year. The group is led by a skilled artist who guides participants in an artistic collaboration and dialogue. No previous art-making experience is necessary, just a desire to learn new skills, collaborate, and engage in intergenerational dialogue and friendship building.

Children & Youth Programs: What We Do

Core Program Components

Positive Youth Development: Positive youth development is an intentional, pro-social approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances youths’ strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths. (

Social Emotional Learning (SEL): Social-emotional learning is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. People with strong social-emotional skills are better able to cope with everyday challenges and benefit academically, professionally, and socially. From effective problem-solving to self-discipline, from impulse control to emotion management and more, SEL provides a foundation for positive, long-term effects on kids, adults, and communities.

Literacy: Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society (UNESCO, 2004; 2017). GBCI programs integrate literacy development through a variety of activities.

Creativity: Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity enhances our ability to connect abstract ideas and come up with novel solutions, so your drawing hobby may actually help train your brain for real-life problem-solving. Creativity also relates to resilience in that it encourages positive emotions that can unlock our inner resources for dealing with stress and uncertainty. (Colin G. DeYoung and Paul J Silvia in The Journal of Positive Psychology, published online 17 Nov 2016.)

Children & Youth Programs: Image
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