Being a Girlguiding Peer Educator

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.

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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!

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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!

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After we finished the programme one girl brought in a poem she had written all about being body confident, I was very impressed!

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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!

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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!

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4 thoughts on “Being a Girlguiding Peer Educator

  1. Thank you for sharing! You are doing an amazing thing for so many girls. How exciting to have already reached 10 different groups!

    I am so excited to do Free Being Me with my Brownies and Guides, but we have still not had our training. So i’d love for you to post more details about what the activities are like and how the girls responded. I have the booklets, but it’s still not the same as getting feedback from how the activity actually worked with the girls.

    • I think it is great that Leaders can now run the programme too, I’ve only reached 5 other groups (2 sessions per unit) since the beginning of the year. I can only commit one extra night a week (on top of my unit and working late shifts) so it is so difficult to run the programme for everyone who requests it!
      The programme is really straight forward, mostly following the booklet! But asking questions and getting the girls to contribute what they think is very important.
      The Guides all seem to love the resigning task toward the end of session one! And if you have a few leaders it is useful to have them circulate among the groups while they are discussing to help keep them on track (the girls often go off on a tangent!)
      The Guides don’t always bring back their personal task for week 2, so when the rest read out their letters I ask them to tell the group 3 things they learned from last week (this also helps if there are girls attending who missed the week before).
      I really enjoy the Brownie activities, especially the story. I get the Brownies in two groups, one half as Gilly and one half as Milly, then they act out what their character is doing. I think it helps them remember the story, then I pair a Gilly with a Milly to draw their characters. My group really enjoyed this task.
      I think I prefer running the Brownie programme overall, but I’ve a lot of experience with the Guide one now!

  2. Well done – it sounds like you’ve got off to a great start. I didn’t know about Peer Educators at all till I left home and met Senior Section from elsewhere. I wish we had some in my area, it’s something that everyone benefits from.

    • I agree, I don’t think it is promoted enough to Senior Section members. I was hoping to get some leaflets to give to the young leaders of the groups I visit but I don’t think they’re ready until the summer.

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