Custom + Quality = GUIDE Training Events

With more than 25 years of experience coordinating, planning and implementing training across the state, GUIDE is your source for a custom, quality event! GUIDE specializes in substance abuse prevention, youth development and leadership for both youth and adults.

IMG_3752No matter your group – youth or adults, large or small, non-profit or corporate – we are willing to work with you to plan and implement a custom event in your community… or anywhere you desire! Put our experience to work for your school, community or company by contacting us to be a part of planning a new, or improving on a pre-existing, program or conference.  Whether it is planning and taking care of all the small details, or simply providing a professional workshop session, GUIDE staff will work to fit your goals and needs, whatever they may be.  We will also make it a priority to work with the budget available to you.

August is always a busy month of custom training events for GUIDE with the start of programming and the new school year. We’ve already had several trainings throughout the state this month and still have more to come before September.

IMG_2605On August 11, GUIDE staff conducted a teen summit with 60 students at the Douglas County Performance Learning Center. At the beginning of the summit, participants were greeted with door prizes and energizers to get them ready for the day. Afterward, they took part in engaging, hands-on workshops related to leadership and goal setting. Through partner and group discussion, creative projects, and the use of GUIDE’s Caboodle Cards, these workshops provided resources and tools necessary to be successful during the school year and beyond. The day ended with a large group session of icebreakers and energizers. During this time, participants had the opportunity to learn about each other and how to work better as a group.

IMG_2774Later that week, GUIDE staff facilitated three workshops with 65 students at the Turner County Freshmen Orientation. Each year, Turner County Freshmen have the opportunity to see and learn about their school prior to the start of the year, and we were grateful to be a part of this fantastic event! The workshops conducted included themes of respect, staying engaged while in school, and time-management. Although the workshops were only 30 minutes in length, the GUIDE facilitators did an exceptional job leading meaningful conversation, engaging participants in activities, and sharing expertise about what to expect in high school.

This month, GUIDE also partnered with the Gwinnett County Coalition’s program, the Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute (GNLI) and Gwinnett SToPP. Each year, these organizations request GUIDE to facilitate teambuilding to start things off for their newest members during their annual kick-off retreat. New members are asked to work together all day Saturday and Sunday of the retreat to learn about their programs, receive training related to creating change in the community, and learn how to work better as a team. GUIDE staff are instrumental in leading new members through these developments and really help to get things moving right at the beginning of the retreat.

GUIDE staff will also conduct two workshops for the Atlanta Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club. The workshops will tackle topics related to Project-Based Learning and STEM in afterschool programming. During the Project-Based Learning workshop, participants will gain an understanding of the key characteristics of project-based learning and how it differs from other models and approaches; learn the principles for designing, assessing and managing project-based learning projects; and gain tools and resources for implementing project-based learning in youth development programs. STEM participants will come to understand the importance of implementing STEM in afterschool, participate in sample activities and facilitation, and review how scientific inquiry relates to STEM.

If you’re interested in custom events like the above, or something totally different, please don’t hesitate to contact our Director of Training and Capacity Building, Mary Kate Chapman ( We strive to provide a quality training every time and will work with you to customize the best event for your budget or link you with someone who can.


7 Ways to Effectively Engage Youth Voice in Programming

Youth Voice is an essential piece of any organization that works with youth, either directly or indirectly.

In order to effectively engage Youth Voice in programming, take the following into consideration:

  1. Honor, ask for and engage youth wisdom.
  2. Provide ample opportunities for young people and adults to share control and decision making on multiple levels.
  3. Understand that Youth Voice is a way of operating, an organizational culture and philosophy that goes beyond one “leadership program offering.”
  4. Go beyond “just listening” and build real action around Youth Voice.
  5. Identify opportunities for voice and choice within each daily activity, across sessions, throughout programs and organization-wide.
  6. Create space, commit resources, provide support and promote opportunities for Youth Voice.
  7. Understand the positive outcomes of partnership for young people, adults, organizations and communities.

Squaready20140811141906The GUIDE, Inc. Youth Advisory Board (YAB) utilizes Youth Voice in multiple ways. Before the official start of the school year in August, a group of YAB members attended Georgia Teen Institute (GTI), planned a community project related to prevention and utilized the Strategic Prevention Framework. During this time, YAB members shared their knowledge of issues in the community, and their project was based on this wisdom and expertise. While they were given community statistics and an action plan as resources, the development of the project was directly related to the needs they wanted to see addressed in the community.

In the upcoming school year, YAB will work toward capacity building, utilizing resources available and implementing this plan in Gwinnett County. They will also have the opportunity to work with GUIDE staff to provide feedback regarding the organization’s strategic planning goals as well as other organizational projects. This feedback ensures that youth in our community are heard and have the chance to share their opinion with stakeholders and decision makers.

IMG_4858Youth Voice is also a key piece of YAB and GUIDE’s Board of Directors meetings. Executive members work with GUIDE staff to develop agendas and activities and even lead their YAB meetings, too. In the upcoming year, YAB will also attend GUIDE Board of Directors meetings where they will create and report out information related to the work they’re accomplishing in and around the community. By including youth in these key pieces, they have a direct say in what they want and need to accomplish, as well as the information they wish to share with the organization’s Board of Directors.

During YAB meetings, one way we encourage youth to think a little deeper and share those thoughts with us is by utilizing a tool called WIBYT: Write It Before You Talk. When brainstorming or thinking deeply about a topic or pondering a specific question, allow participants a set time limit to write down anything related to the topic or question you presented.  The only rules are that the person must write for the entire time, and they cannot verbalize their thoughts with those around them until instructed to do so. After the time limit is up, have participants share the ideas they jotted down. This activity allows time for everyone to identify their own thoughts or answers before sharing out with the large group. This will effectively engage more youth, and the group participation will increase, too. For more tools and tricks on how to engage youth, check out speaker, educator and author Michael Brandwein.

Squaready20140811142355It’s important to incorporate Youth Voice in several areas throughout the organization and to make sure it isn’t one small happening, but is interwoven throughout the organizational structure. Realize that this is a partnership and show them respect. Listen to their ideas. Be intentional about involving them in multiple aspects of your organization. Above all, remember that Youth Voice takes time; it doesn’t happen overnight.

We are excited to work with each YAB member this year, to hear their voice, and to make a positive difference in our community as a result!

For more information and resources related to Youth Voice, check out University of Minnesota’s Quality Matters Toolkit: Voice and Engagement.

GUIDE is Gearing Up for the New School Year!

IMG_2480It’s that time of the year again when summer vacation comes to a close and anticipation for the school year sets in everywhere. Teachers begin attending meetings and preparing their lessons and classrooms, students are shopping for school supplies, college dorms are being prepped and cleaned and everyone is getting ready for the upcoming school year.

Here at GUIDE, we have experienced this same anticipation as we have had the opportunity of helping others in the community prepare for the return of their students this school year.

Gwinnett County Health and PE Teacher Pre-Planning Meeting

GC4 (2)GUIDE has a long-standing partnership with the Gwinnett County Board of Education in efforts to prevent substance abuse among youth and the problems associated with it. We are grateful for the relationship we have with the school system and the role it has played in our success in reducing underage drinking over the years.

Around 400 Gwinnett County Health and PE Teachers met last week at Collins Hill High School to plan for the year ahead. GUIDE was invited to come to the meeting and provide teachers with substance abuse prevention materials. We have been hard at work putting together packets of information about underage drinking and the effects alcohol has on the teenage brain, as well as the dangers of prescription drug abuse, both serious issues facing our teens. We provided them with tools that can help prevent teen use, misuse and abuse of these substances.

IMG_2482With these resources, teachers know the facts and dangers of underage drinking and other drugs and can educate their students about the risks. We appreciate these teachers and their willingness to care for their students and promote positive youth development.

Thank you to our partners, CETPA and the GA Rx Drug Abuse Prevention Initiative of the Council on Alcohol and Drugs, for providing us with Rx drug abuse prevention materials. With their help, we are able to work together for safe and healthy communities.

GUIDE looks forward to future success in these efforts to prevent substance abuse in Gwinnett and across the state.

Georgia Gwinnett College Student Worker and RA Training

Georgia Gwinnett CollegeRA Training 2 (GGC) is another one of GUIDE’s valuable community partners. We have worked together with them over the years to provide materials and resources, as well as share research of model programs for alcohol and other drug prevention on college campuses.  GGC does a great job of promoting positive behavior to prevent and reduce alcohol, tobacco and other drug use by offering its students various alternative activities during the week and at night.

We think it is great that GGC supports the community by having developed alcohol-free dorms, which will minimize the availability of alcohol. This is another way that GGC shows its commitment to student success because studies show that alcohol negatively impacts academic performance.

We continue to work with GGC to help make it a healthy and safe place for its students. Over the past couple of weeks, we have planned and conducted two trainings at GGC for some of the college’s student workers and 40 of their Resident Assistants (RAs). During the training, we educated the participants about the dangerous effects of underage and binge drinking, prescription drug abuse and marijuana use.

IMG_2542The student workers and RAs also discussed ways they can use the information as tools for keeping the dorm areas safe and preventing use and abuse of these substances. Now they are more aware of what to look for when it comes to drug consumption and related risky behaviors. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with these incredible young adults and, together, make a difference in our community.

Team Building Activity: The Star

The Star 

This is a quick and easy team building activity that you can accomplish with any group, made up of youth or adults. We recently used this activity with our 2014 Georgia Teen Institute Staff during Staff Development Weekend and are so excited to share it with you!

20140315_111316Time Needed: 15 – 20 minutes

Group Size: Any, split into teams of 12-15

Materials: A very long rope or ball of yarn (40-50 feet) tied to itself to form a circle


Star 1Ask everyone in the group to grab the rope and get into a circle.

Inform everyone that they cannot let go of the rope or trade places with others, but they can slide their hands along the rope.

The goal is to get the whole group to create a five pointed star with the rope (the kind with the crisscrosses in the middle).

Once they think the task is complete, ask them to slowly lower the star to the ground and step back to admire their work.

Debrief Questions:

  • Was your team successful? If so, how?
  • What did your planning process look like?
  • Did anyone emerge as a leader? What actions or characteristics made them a leader?
  • What roles did others play during the activity?
  • In what ways does this activity relate to the real world?

Star 3If you use this team building activity with your group, let us know how it goes. If you already do this activity and know of fun or meaningful variances, we would love to know about that, too. Please reach out and keep connected!

GUIDE, Inc. Trainings: More Than Just Professional Development

Sylvia Comer of Elite Women of Excellence participates in researching a relevant topic during the GOCF-funded Project Based Learning workshop in 2013.GUIDE trains hundreds of youth and adults every year in topics ranging from leadership to substance abuse prevention to youth development. Through different grants, contracts and partnerships, GUIDE typically offers more than 75 trainings a year across the state. It is inevitable that we have some people who attend multiple trainings every year…and some people have been attending GUIDE trainings longer than most of our youth participants have been alive! We love to get feedback from our participants and find out what they liked best about our training and, more importantly, how they are using the information back in their communities. Earlier this year, we reached out to several people who have participated in multiple events offered by GUIDE to get their thoughts about the trainings they attended.

One name we regularly see on our registration list is that of Veronica R. Dowell from Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services. Veronica has been attending trainings hosted by GUIDE since she started working with youth and families in the prevention field in 1994! Over the last 20 years, Veronica has participated in a number of prevention trainings, including the PCCG-required Core Courses, Governor’s Office for Children and Families-funded workshops and several conference workshops conducted by GUIDE. Veronica says that she can’t pick a favorite training that she has attended because, “to be honest, since I have NEVER had a bad training with GUIDE, it would be hard to say if I had a favorite.” Two other regular participants are Becky Gay from Communities in Schools of Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County, Inc. and Sylvia Comer from Elite Women of Excellence. Both Becky and Sylvia have attended several trainings offered through our Governor’s Office for Children & Families grant. Sylvia says she attends these trainings “to seek better ways to engage and impact students.”

Becky Gay and her colleagues, Lisa Cox and Jill Alexander, from Communities in Schools of Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County, Inc. at the GOCF-funded Educators' Conference in 2011. These three ladies represent the hundreds that GUIDE impacts through our training events yearly. It is always our hope that we are sharing tools and resources that make a positive difference for the participants who attend. When asked how the trainings she attended had changed her work and program, Becky shared, “By attending GUIDE trainings, you learn while you are putting yourself in the place of the student so you see how it feels to be the student, while also seeing how the instructors are making the lesson happen. GUIDE trainings also always encourage youth voice and we have been able to get valuable feedback and input from our students that, in turn, has strengthened our programs.” Sylvia feels similarly and said, “The information given can be used immediately, and since you are actively participating in the training, you feel comfortable with the tools and ideas learned.”

We love to hear when programs have taken information, tools or resources and used them back in their communities. After attending a workshop on best practices in youth development, Veronica received a kit of supplies to conduct several of the activities used. She said, “I used the egg activity when was in charge of doing a team building activity with my co-workers. It was awesome!” Becky loves our Caboodle and Commonality Cards. She said, “Our favorite tools that we have received from GUIDE training are those cards. We have all used them in work-related AND personal settings!”

Veronica R. Dowell of Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services works with her team to transport 12 plastic eggs across the room using only the tools provided during the "Radioactive Eggs" activity at the Best Practices in Youth Development training in 2012. By conducting these trainings, we help participants build the knowledge and practice the skills they need to create highly effective programs for youth and adults. For example, participants like Veronica who have attended our prevention courses are better equipped to provide research-based programming, ensure that their programs are culturally relevant and operate ethically. Others, like Becky and Sylvia, who attend our youth development trainings, walk away with ideas on how to infuse asset-building into their existing programs, discover tools for providing high-quality in-house staff development and understand the value of incorporating youth voice in all aspects of their work.

If you’ve ever attended a GUIDE training, what did you walk away with? We’d love to hear your favorite parts, the tools you’re using and how your organization has benefited from your attendance! 

GUIDE 2013-2014 Youth Advisory Board: Where They’re Headed

IMG_4921GUIDE is proud to recognize ten seniors from our Youth Advisory Board (YAB) and their accomplishments. The YAB is comprised of youth from across Gwinnett County that commit to making a difference in their community. YAB members develop and practice key leadership skills such as public speaking, group management, networking, decision-making, planning, organization, and time management. Each of our YAB members has shown dedication to not only GUIDE, but also to their schools and communities. Because of their impressive leadership skills, every YAB member was involved in a variety of extracurricular activities such as Student Government Association, National Honor Society, Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, etc. Several YAB members also held part time jobs at businesses such as restaurants and insurance companies.

Each senior had an impressive resume, and universities across the country reached out to them. Throughout the fall and spring, they were busy applying for numerous scholarships and universities. GUIDE is honored to announce that all ten of our seniors were accepted to the university or college of their choice and several were selected for outstanding scholarships!

IMG_4862We are extremely proud of two YAB members for receiving the prestigious honor of being selected as 2014 Gates Millennium Scholars. The Gates Millennium Scholars Program selects 1,000 talented students each year to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. This scholarship will provide a full scholarship to the recipient for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Josselyn Garcia, YAB President, and Micheline Amisi, YAB Vice-President, were both selected as Gates Scholars. Josselyn, a future Eagle, will be attending Emory University in Atlanta this fall. A soon-to-be Tar Heel, Micheline will be attending The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Moving to Rhode Island, Odemi Pessu will be attending Brown University, becoming a Brown Bear, with a full academic scholarship. Akua Obeng-Akrofi, YAB Secretary, received a track scholarship and will be moving to New York City and attending Columbia University as a Lion. Maya Carter will become a Pirate and attend Hampton University in Virginia on an academic scholarship.

Several YAB members decided to stay in Georgia to continue their education. A future Bulldog, Joy Choi will be attending the University of Georgia in Athens. Rachel Topper will be attending Georgia College in Milledgeville where she will become a Bobcat. Marilyn Carias, Angela Luu and Vincent Morales are all soon to be Panthers at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

IMG_4422GUIDE appreciates the participation and service from each senior throughout their time on YAB. Each individual helped make a difference to youth and adults in Gwinnett County. Every YAB member has grown in their leadership potential through their YAB experience, and now they are equipped to share those skills at universities across the country. As the new school year quickly approaches, we wish all of these new college freshmen good luck and look forward to hearing about their college successes and how they go on to change the world.

GTI 2014: Workshops

This is our third and last blog installment recapping Georgia Teen Institute 2014. Our first two posts covered overall group session highlights and Team Meetings and Family Groups, two elements of GTI that are often favorites! We hope you enjoy this post just as much, as we describe the inspiring workshop opportunities participants were provided and how they enriched the GTI experience!

Wes Bender: "Fighting Low Expectations with Emotional Intelligence"Year after year, we are fortunate to have workshop presenters at Georgia Teen Institute who are truly invested in the lives of others. This year proved no different. Presenters came from all over the state in order to Make It Matter to participants. Presenters inspired, motivated and encouraged workshop goers to make a difference, not only in their communities, but in the world at large.

All participants, both youth and adults, were able to choose from a variety of workshops offered several times throughout the week. Workshops covered an array of topics such as effective peer-focused strategies, including alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention as well as the prevention of teen dating violence; becoming culturally competent leaders; taking advantage of youth voice in order to improve existing programming; learning ways to become successful both now and in the future; understanding communication styles; and the art of writing an effective PSA.

Mahuli Jakubek & Molly Vance: "Make Your Voice Count"Substance abuse prevention workshops were led by phenomenal presenters such as Wes Bender from the YMCA, John Lee McNair and Felicia Nepp from the Catoosa Prevention Initiative, Dana Bryan and our very own GUIDE, Inc. staff Mahuli Jakubek and Molly Vance. Wes showed participants that it’s important to take a deeper look into emotional intelligence in order to set higher expectations for self and the generations to follow. These higher expectations, in turn, help youth understand their worth and the importance of remaining healthy by living an alcohol, tobacco and other drug free lifestyle. Art is also a wonderful way to express the importance of prevention. John Lee McNair & Felicia Nepp: "Prevention Library Project"John Lee and Felicia led participants in a creative project, which illuminated powerful prevention messages. Adult participants had the privilege of learning from John Lee, who discussed ways to build parental awareness of prescription drug abuse and misuse. Mahuli and Molly led a fun, interactive workshop that illustrated how social norms and norming play an important role in crushing the myths about underage drinking prevention. “Lauren’s Story,” a workshop demonstrating the negative effects of substance abuse, was led by Dana who engaged youth as they listened to her personal story of loss. A teen dating violence workshop, which included another type of prevention for participants to choose from, was led by Christina Williams and Shoneika Jefferson from SafeHomes of Augusta.

Anthony Stover: "Empowering Leaders!"Participants also learned skills to become culturally competent, successful and purpose-driven leaders in their communities. Exploration of experiences, background and prejudices led the conversation in Michael Davis’ workshop about culturally competency. VOX Teen Communications, a program dedicated to youth voice in programming, illustrated the importance of listening to the voices of the youth we serve. Ron Gardner led youth through an engaging workshop that helped them identify the importance of academics, behavior and character in order to achieve success. Participants were encouraged to seek out their purpose in G. Jackson’s workshop, while also exploring key elements of leadership in Anthony Stover’s workshop on empowerment. Crystal Culver motivated youth in her workshops to seek their full potential in order to Make It Matter, not only at GTI, but back at home, too.

Crystal Williams: "CRUSH YOUR BOX: Communicating Your Leadership Style"Adult Advisors had the option to attend specialized sessions including Crystal Williams’ workshop, which showcased various youth communication practices and behaviors. This knowledge helped adults to identify ways to engage the youth they serve in a more meaningful way. Atlanta radio host, Melissa Carter, offered another workshop dedicated to the skill of PSA writing. Participants learned how to craft messages in order to raise awareness in their communities. Adult participants had the privilege of learning from John Bringuel with The Council on Alcohol and Drugs, who discussed ways to build parental awareness of prescription drug abuse and misuse.

We are incredibly thankful to all of our presenters for truly Making It Matter at GTI 2014! It’s in large part because of these wonderful people that Georgia Teen Institute is able to provide participants from all over the state of Georgia the skills and resources needed to make a difference in their communities.

Do you want to know even more about Georgia Teen Institute and how you can get involved? Please visit our website and reach out to us today for any questions or suggstions!