This month we're talking about:

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Global conversations has closed - but keep talking!

Helene is now back safe and sound in the Girlguiding UK office, complete with badges, blankets and kind messages from all over the world! Thank you for taking part, for your inspiring blogs and for sharing your brilliant events and celebrations in 2012. Why not keep chatting and sharing ideas? There are forums and websites for young members and for adults: Rainbows website, Brownies website, Guides website and forum, Senior Section website and forum, Leaders' forum. For Girlguiding UK, 2013 is all about making a difference - check out our Girls in Action project.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A fat, easy target? Not in guiding. Let's lead the way, says Kathryn.

I've been thinking about this idea a lot recently.

Equal. Having the same right as another. The dictionary defines it as: "The state of being equal, esp. in status, rights, and opportunities".

But as we know, it is not as simple as that. 

I saw a great quote yesterday, on Facebook of all places:

"I learned first-hand that fat people are the recipients of the last remaining socially acceptable prejudice. Racism and sexism will get you ostracised in more enlightened communities, but you can mock fat people all you want."

We're fair game, aren't we? A fat, easy target?

So often those of us who are larger than most use humour as a defence mechanism; we would probably laugh, or extend the joke further. By doing this though, are we not saying: 'YES!  It's okay to make fun of me. Continue?'

I was watching, of all things, The Chase (if you're not familiar, it is a game show in the UK with Bradley Walsh), where the 'Beast' came on. Here, on prime time telly, we had a popular face of TV mock a man for his sheer size. No other reason for this. He responded in turn. I can't remember these comments, I was too shocked, and probably too busy frantically tweeting my fury. 

Why am I annoyed?

We know children learn behaviour they see around them. At 7pm on that Sunday, they saw that it was okay to mock someone for being FAT. If it had been race, or disability, or creed, it would have been an OUTRAGE across the social media world. I didn't see anything about it: did you?

No, and that is because it is seen as acceptable. We are showing our children that bullying someone for their size is okay. Who are we to judge?  

So after this realisation, I remembered that I had the perfect opportunity to change this. Even if it was just a little bit. My Brownie pack is brand new - a great chance to instil positive values right from the start.

After our main activity, while some were finishing off and tidying up, I had a chat with some of them about why I love Girlguiding UK; it's girls helping girls, a safe place away from boys and pressure and grading - and it is equal.

If I manage to have this chat with one or two girls a week, and talk about it on their level, it might just go a little way to counteract what they're seeing on the TV.

As a Leader, I'm a role model for these girls, and I need to act like it. I'm not promoting obesity, but I'm also not promoting the diet culture, or striving to be something I'm never going to be. I'm happy in my skin, and hopefully, they will see that too. 

And my fat self is happy with that.

Kathryn, Brown Owl, 9th South Shields Brownie Pack.

Pirate adventures for Helene in Cheshire – and a close encounter of the eagle kind!

Helene arrived in Blackpool and was whizzed off in a coach with Blackpool North Division Guides and Brownies. We were all off to spend a holiday together Cheshire to celebrate the Olympics, and the theme for the week was Pirates! Arrrr!


Helene had a fantastic time…

Wow the zip wire was really fast…" Thank you for the ride Steph!’

The girls were challenged to build a swing. It was wicked!!

‘I’ve only got little legs, thank you for the lift!’

Helene says ‘Watching the falcon display was great until he decided he was going to EAT ME help........................’

Don't worry, Helene fans, she wasn't hurt at all, only bit shaken by her eagle experience!

Helene has made so many new friends and been on lots of adventures. She played with the parrots in the brigg, took part in pirate Olympics, had a sing song round the camp fire, got half eaten by a falcon and was made to walk the plank!!

She was exhausted by the end of the week, and slept all the way home on the coach.

Helene says ‘Thank you Blackpool North Division for a fantastic week and I hope to see you all again soon.’

Now off to her next adventure.............

Friday, 14 September 2012

Helene in Knoxville, discovering how the Girl Scouts began and making friends

The Girl Scouts of Troop 20628 in Knoxville, Tennessee USA were thrilled when Helene arrived for her visit with us!
Doing the 'stadium be my eyes' activity

Before she got here, she missed out on our Olympics evening, where we did the WAGGGS Games Go Global Bronze badge.We wish she would have been here for it, but we are certain that our Troop bear Juliette told her all about it during their chats!  

Our own Olympic rings!
Helene arrived in perfect time for a Girl Scout history program that we were attending called Our Girl Scout Story. We introduced Helene to our Troop bear, Juliette, and they enjoyed a nice chat!
Helene and Juliette getting to know each other
Juliette is named for Juliette Gordon Low, the Founder of Girl Scouts of the USA. Our Troop learned a lot about Juliette Gordon Low, as well as WAGGGS, during the program, and so did Helene.

Helene loves the old-fashioned uniform
Here, Helene is learning about the history of Girl Scouts in the Knoxville and Oak Ridge areas. She also got to try on an early Girl Scout uniform, and she played jacks with us!

playing jacks
Finding out about our guiding world history

While learning about WAGGS and the World Centres, Helene enjoyed some treats from India with us! Some were a little spicy, but the cookie was delicious!

Mmm tasty

Helene joined us during friendship circle too! We were so happy to have Helene with us, and we are proud of her for earning the Our Girl Scout Story badge!
Our badge
In our friendship circle
 After the event, Helene enjoyed a sleepover with one of our Junior Girl Scouts, and they had fun playing with Lalaloopsy dolls!

Can you spot Helene amongst the dolls?
Helene’s last adventure with Troop 20628 was with two of the Troop Leaders. Helene joined them for a Troop camping course at Camp Tanasi in Andersonville, Tennessee. Helene learned how to build a fire, and she also enjoyed a ‘fiery’ treat! With a kiss farewell, we send Helene off to a Girl Scout Troop in Utah. We wish Helene well as she continues her journey!


Helene has the bounciest day ever at Buzz camp with 4th Disdbury Rainbows

Helene had a great weekend with 4th Didsbury Rainbows - she went to Buzz 2012, Girlguiding Manchester's county camp and mini festival!

She started off being looked after Rainbow, Nancy, who was there with her mum, and she visited the creche and went to the opening ceremony where lots of bouncy bee balls were released for the crowd to bounce around while they listened and danced to the singer. 
Helene and her Rainbow friends getting ready to climb
Helene also spent some time at the activities information desk and met loads of Guides and Brownies who popped in in between their activities to collect the activities badges they had earned to pin on their ID lanyard.  She tried to get on film when the BBC came filming for the news, but she must have been edited out...!

When the rest of the Rainbows arrived the fun really started! They all had a go at climbing, high ropes, bracelet making, bunjee trampolining, nail art, a custard run, science magic, glitter tattoos, giant kerplunk, and sooo many more things. One group of Rainbows and Helene went round the activities with Leader Snowy who has just had her 18th birthday, Happy Birthday Snowy!
Bungeeeeee! The Rainbows' favourite activity

Look at her go...

The science bit - we managed to push a kebab stick throguh a balloon without bursting it!

It was an interesting weekend weather wise, which pleased the Rainbows and Helene as they had great fun playing in the mud (I'm afraid Helene got a bit muddy, we have cleaned her up as best we can!)

We've loved having Helene and the Rainbows can't wait to find out what she gets up to next!


Joanna Mellor (Lightning), 4th Didsbury Rainbows


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Making the Games happen - Katy's volunteering story

When, last October, I found out that I had been chosen to be a Games Maker for the Paralympic Games I was so excited!  I had applied to be a Games Maker as soon as the entries opened and was really looking forward to being a part of the Paralympics.

I was part of the Accreditation team working at the International Broadcast Centre and it was our job to print and validate the accreditation passes of all the journalists, photographers and broadcasters working at the Paralympic Games.  Your accreditation pass has a photo of you on the front along with a list of codes which show the venues that you have access to.  They are very important for security and without your accreditation you won’t be allowed into any venues.  It is the most important thing to have with you at all times – if athletes forget theirs they won’t even be allowed to compete!

 My volunteering started two weeks before the Paralympic Games began, and on our first day we arrived to a very quiet Olympic Park.  The Olympic Games had just finished and all the signs, flags and venues were being changed to get ready for the Paralympics.  The International Broadcast Centre was empty as all of the press had gone on a well-earned holiday after all their hard work during the Olympics!

As my volunteering went on, however, people started coming back to work, (of course collecting their accreditation from us first!) and the excitement about the Paralympic Games started to build.  Once the athletes moved into the Paralympic Village I would see them training in the Park when I walked across to work in the morning.

I had two shifts during the Paralympic Games and the atmosphere in the Olympic Park was amazing!  I’d been lucky enough to see some athletics during the Olympics and the buzz around the Park was just the same as before.  This shows just how much excitement there is about the Paralympics in London and that it is viewed as the same as the Olympics, with everyone recognising that the athletes have trained incredibly hard and achieve amazing things despite their disabilities.  The media attention that the Paralympics has had this year is much more than at previous Games and is a huge step forward for equality for Olympians and Paralympians alike.


Monday, 3 September 2012

Role models and history makers. Rosy introduces September's topic of equality

This month's Global Conversation focuses on equality, and this topic couldn't come at a more appropriate time.
Girlguiding UK's 2012 Girls' Attitudes Explored Survey highlighted that 55% of girls aged 11-21 in the UK believe there aren't enough female role models.  Girls interviewed for this survey struggled to name sportswomen as role models.  Sports coverage in the UK does seem to focus on men, and it's very rare for coverage to focus solely on women's teams, so this shouldn't be a surprise.  I was, however, surprised by this quote:  ‘I can name guys – Ronaldo…’ ‘Kelly Holmes. Usain Bolt…’ ‘David Beckham.’  Kelly Holmes is such successful female athlete that in 2005 she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her achievements.  Do girls today actually know who Dame Kelly Holmes is?  Or is the assumption that, because Kelly Holmes is so successful, she is male? 
I've been really inspired this summer by both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.  I've never been particularly interested in sport, so have surprised myself by becoming a little bit obsessed with games I didn't even know existed (wheelchair basketball anyone?!). 

My inspiring stories haven't necessarily been the big stories that were picked up by the media or shown all over the tv coverage (although Ellie Simmonds winning gold in the S6 400m freestyle and smashing the world record by over 5 seconds did leave me, and probably most of the UK, sobbing!)  Instead, my inspiration has come from the individuals who have challenged people's expectations.
Particularly memorable are Sarah Attar, the 19 year old 800m runner, and Wodjan Shaherkani, the 16 year old judoka.  These two women made history this year by being the first women from Saudi Arabia to be allowed to compete at the Olympic Games.  Within their country these two women are by no means seen as equal to the male athletes, and have been the subject of a lot of controversy in Saudi media.  It doesn't matter that Sarah finished her race 43 seconds behind the heat winner, or that Wodjan didn't make it past the first round.  The fact that these young women were given the opportunity to compete in London shows a strength and determination that should be applauded. 

To me, equality isn't about treating everyone the same.  Everyone is different.  If we weren't different the world would be a really boring place.  It's important to recognise those differences, and, for me, that's where equality really comes into play.  Equality should be about recognising diversity and enabling everyone to have access to the same opportunities.

We need to be doing more in the UK to introduce girls and young women to role models from across all walks of life.  I am so proud to be a member of an organisation which supports and encourages girls and young women to be who they want to be.  As a Leader, I should be doing my best to act as a role model for my Brownies and showing that, no matter who you are, you can achieve amazing things.  I hope that, following the success of Team GB in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, these young women can begin to recognise the significance of women's participation in 2012.
“Just because an animal is large, it doesn't mean he doesn't want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo” 
You just can't argue with Winnie the Pooh!
Rosy B
PS Check out Girlguiding UK’s inspiring Real Role Models here.