This week I attended an event run by the wonderful organisation Girls Out Loud.
They run a number of programmes/events to work with teenage girls. These are: Discovery Days, Role Model Relays, Big Sister Mentoring Programme and 12 week Intervention Programme called Stardom. They all focus on the following:
- Personal Identity – helping girls get a sense of self, who they are and what they stand for, finding their voice, recognising their greatness.
- Introducing them to powerful role models in the media and in their community, with a view to them becoming role models for other girls.
- Encouraging them to recognise and embrace enterprise as a career option now and in their future.
- Shifting the focus away from external body image and the unrealistic media hype of looking perfect and helping them re-align their self image.
- Improving confidence, self esteem and self respect.
I attended a Discovery Day, a one day event all about encouraging confidence and self-esteem. I worked with another ‘Discovery Star’ (that’s what they call the women who volunteer to help on the day), and there were 8 girls with us all aged 13-14. We worked on a number of tasks throughout the day with the aim of improving the girls self awareness, motivation and raising their aspirations.
I had forgotten what it’s like being a teenage girl. It can be summed up in one word; hard! All those hormones mixed in with wanting to belong, be popular, be liked. It’s exhausting. Throw in social media, mobile phones, celebrity ‘role models’ and boys, and well you’re just asking for problems. I am so glad that when I was young(!) there were no mobile phones or numerous apps to add to the stress of being a teenager. Before I say anything else I want to comment on how impressed I was by the girls I worked with. They might not have been excited about taking part in the day, but they were polite and well mannered throughout.
So, during the day we worked with the girls on who they saw as role models, what they thought of the media’s portrayal of women, and how they could improve their self esteem and confidence. Remember being at School and having to work on a task but not wanting to embarrass yourself in front of everyone else? Well I guess that’s how some of the girls felt on the day. They were initially quiet and didn’t want to join in, but as time went on they all engaged in their own way.
I learned a lot too. For instance, I didn’t know that Zoella, beauty blogger and writer has anxiety. One of the girls explained this to me and said that as she also has anxiety she can relate to Zoella and sees her as a role model because she hasn’t let it get in the way of her success. I shared with this girl that I too have anxiety. I told her that it didn’t stop me doing things even when I felt anxious, and I was rewarded with a little smile!
I think my favourite part of the day was working with the girls to design their own magazine cover. They were such a talented group! In fact all the groups produced something fantastic. Here are a couple of images of their work:
Aren’t they brilliant!
They all really took on the board the idea that women should look like women, and not be digitally enhanced or manipulated. They wanted to produce something positive and inspiring, and they did!
I would love to think they will remember this message and apply it to themselves, but even now as the grand old age of 32, I’m influenced by the media. Why else would I buy the magazines?!
I found the whole day to be really inspiring. I wanted to get to know the girls more and find out what they were hoping to achieve, but the time just flew and before I knew it, it was time to leave.
I would have loved an event like this when I was a teenager, to show me that there is life after School, that you can be whatever you want to be, and that there are people willing to help you achieve your goals.
Girls Out Loud are always on the lookout for amazing women like you to take part in their events. You could inspire these girls! If you’re up for the challenge then get in touch either via Twitter or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘BE BOLD, BE BRAVE, BE BEAUTIFUL, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY BE YOU. BECAUSE YOU, ARE ALREADY ENOUGH AND ABSOLUTELY PERFECT, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.’
(Girls Out Loud Mantra)