I am honored to welcome you to our labor of love, the A New Way Forward (ANWF) Wellness and Mentoring Circles Facilitator’s Guide. It was designed and developed to breathe life into our ANWF manual and support us in our commitment to heal what’s hurting Black America. The curriculum we developed—and the additional resources you will find on this site are here to help you in actualizing the mission of self-reclamation so that we can all stand in our highest selves as we do our part to restore our children and our communities.
While I am currently engaged in ministry, my life work and calling is still centered on conducting transformational trainings, life coaching and group facilitation—calling forth the best in us. Over the past four decades I have had the amazing honor of being both midwife and witness to the positive transformation of lives through facilitated change. I know firsthand the power and value in shifting our focus to and investing in what we want to see. My own story includes a time when I felt so hopeless that I attempted suicide—twice. Through group support and processes, I grew to think about myself and life in a different way. I learned to discern and focus more on “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report...” (Philippians 4:8KJV).
The Wellness and Mentoring Circles are all about choosing not to sit in the passenger seat in our own lives. We have the power and ability to determine our own destinies. The activities in the curriculum are meant to provide you with tools to achieve that righteous goal. Our formula is simple: We focus on our heritage—the Truth about us—and then we build on what works, and commit to change what no longer serves us. In this way, we will develop consistent models for wholeness and interconnected community, working always and in all ways together for our common good.
This Wellness and Mentoring Circle Facilitator’s Guide is the toolkit. Use it to prepare for and guide each Circle session. Each section presented in the guide highlights a chapter in our ANWF manual and outlines the flow of that session. In preparation for every session, you and the members of your Circle should read the corresponding chapter in the manual. We have included two activities for each chapter. Be prepared to facilitate one of them during each session. These activities are intended to open and fill Circle participants’ hearts to overflowing, offering them a place for introspection and the inspiration and practical tools needed for transformation. Some of the activities can be used with ease, frequency and some adaptation. For example, one of the activities, Heroes and Sheroes, is available to you on this site and can be used as a bridge, a means for refocusing Circle energy and determining how you use the available time and manage participant sharing in your Circles. There are additional tools and activities you can view here and they can be used in your Circle as you deem appropriate.
Your Circle may choose to meet weekly, biweekly or monthly. Regardless of frequency, please gain agreement and maintain consistency. While the size of your Circle is limited only by the capacity of your meeting space, we recommend that after the welcome session, the group divide into smaller sections with a maximum of 12 participants in each to increase participation during the Circle activities. In one of our Oakland trainings, we had some 60 sisters in the large group. Once we finished the large group session, the participants were divided into groups of 10, creating six distinct Circles. We were able to maintain the integrity of the group session and ensure a greater opportunity for everyone to be included and heard in our smaller groups.
It is important to begin each meeting on the same page, so we recommend that you build community agreements during the very first session and review them during each subsequent session. How the meetings end are of equal importance. We envision each session closing with participants in their small Circles sharing in acknowledgment of one another or expressing gratitude for the session experience. After this closing ritual, the smaller groups will return to the large circle and the session will officially end with participants reciting “A Pledge to Rescue Our Youth” in unison. Dr. Maya Angelou wrote this pledge expressly for the National CARES Mentoring Movement.
Through our Wellness and Mentoring Circles, we’ll breathe new life into our communities and revise our roles in saving a generation. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., reminds us, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” As we rise to transform our own lives, we will embrace and save our young. I am grateful for your participation, leadership and dedication to our youth. Your “Yes!” that first beckoned you to this Circle, plus the support of participants, the local CARES leaders, online resources and ongoing guidance from ANWF, will sustain you in optimally facilitating your Wellness and Mentoring Circle. Together, we can do this! Let’s get our Circles spinning from the inside out!
In Love and Appreciation,