Want to be body confident?
It is easy. Teach kids to be body confident. When you have these discussions with kids aged 7-14 it makes you realise how unimportant matching the ‘Image Myth’ is.
How can I just start teaching kids to be body confident?
If you’re a girl aged 14-25 then free training is waiting for you within Girlguiding. One weekend of activities, role plays and a lot of fun leaves you with all the skills you need to run the Free Being Me programme. Then it is up to you to arrange your sessions with Brownie and Guide leaders. It is the perfect, safe environment to discuss this sort of issue and I have already seen lots of girls benefit.
Peer Educator Training
As I came to my final year in the Senior Section I wanted to make the most of the opportunities available to me, and this weekend away became my first and only experience alongside other Senior Section members. And it was a lot of fun! I went alone, but there were some girls attending with their friends, but whether or not you attend in a group everyone has something in common – a love of Girlguiding! Between activities we shared stories on our weekly adventures with Brownies and Guides.
The weekend was well structured. On the first evening we experience the Free Being Me programme for the 11-14 age group. As this was our introduction to Free Being Me we saw it first hand like the Guides would, and that was very beneficial. We then spent the next day and a half learning the aims of Peer Education and Free Being Me, we had sessions on communication, safeguarding and marketing. Once we were familiar with Free Being Me we were tasked with running the 7-10 activities in small groups for the rest. This was the most difficult for me as the girls acted up like children, I don’t like role play – I know these are 20 year old women, I cannot treat them like 8 year olds. This gave me a headache, but everything is was fantastic!
I left the session with my Free Being Me workbooks to take into my sessions to run the programme. Well, I devoured them! Reading them front to back multiple times over the Christmas holidays. (Which was lucky when I turned up at a session without it!)
The training was in October, and as leaders have their programmes set for the term I arranged my first sessions for January. I applied for the grant (new Peer Educators can claim £15 for uniform and resources), purchased my Peer Educator shirt, and set up my Free Being Me box filled with my books, paper, pens, post its, dice, blue tack and all the print outs.
Like with most volunteer positions, you can do as much or as little as you think, but I always go overboard when creating Girlguiding resources!
Running my first sessions
My very first was a bit of cheat as it was my own Brownie unit! The girls got stuck in and really enjoyed the variety of activities. We stuck to the times and the Brownies made the most of discussing, drawing and acting. The follow up session was successful too with the girls making their own adverts to promote body confidence. I love it when they all have amazing different ideas!
After we finished the programme one girl brought in a poem she had written all about being body confident, I was very impressed!
My first Guide session was with our sister unit so many of the Guides were my former Brownies. This was a good introduction to running a Guide session, while I’d helped on trips I’d never attended a unit meeting before, let alone run one! Again it went well, and I was lucky to have our two Brownie helpers in the group to give me a hand too!
I’ve now run 10 sessions with five units, two of which were completely new to me. These were really scary, but by coincidence I had in fact met leaders from both units before!
My favourite activity
The Guides seem to LOVE the storm out activity. After deciding that ‘GLOSS’ magazine isn’t the best place to work the Guides must tell the editors why they’re leaving and storm out. It always goes down really well (what Guide doesn’t dream of shouting off at her leader!) but what they don’t realise is that the activity promotes the girls speaking out for what they believe.
Some of my favourites have been seeing tiny, shy Guides shouting and banging them wrists on tables, a tiny Guide knocking over the leader’s water bottle, Guide protesting with marching and rhymes, plus one more reserved group who pointed out each member of the groups ‘job’ and why their magazine had a bad impact on all of them.
My final thought
I always leave the Guides with my final comment on the matter and hope it strikes a chord with someone. I explain to them that at some point, whether it has already happened, or happens in their late teens, early 20s, 30s, 40s or beyond, at some point they will realise this focus on looks isn’t important, and they will realise how much exciting adventurous and opportunities are out there for them.
I’ve had that moment. While my appearance hasn’t been something overly important to me (don’t worry, I’m hygienic though!) going on this journey since October has opened my eyes to how ridiculous this obsession with looks is, and also all the new things I want to try too!
So, if you’re considering becoming a Peer Educator and are unsure I just want to say seriously – go for it. It is such an amazing experience!