Want to learn more about what we actually do ‘on the ground’? Our Youth Project Worker Rebekah shares some reflections on a new project with young women in three South Wales high schools. Read on to find out more about what they’ve been up to this term.
It’s absolutely freezing, we’ve seen snow, eaten many a choc, and made cards which means one thing – Christmas is just around the corner and it’s the end of our first term at our new girls project at Maesteg Comprehensive School, Coleg Cymunedol y Dderwen and Bryntirion High School.
Together in partnership with AYPD (Active Young People Department) at Bridgend Council we have been delivering weekly sessions in the three schools in Bridgend, South Wales, with girls from years 8, 9 and year 10. The focus of this year-long project is to look at ways to improve girls’ engagement with sport and physical activity, by addressing the underlying barriers to activity, including low self-esteem, a lack of confidence and poor body image. The thirty-nine week programme will also explore nutrition, girls’ aspirations and gender equality through unique and dynamic group led sessions. Our research into girls across Wales, Fundamental Rights, showed that many girls across the country struggle with their confidence and feel lonely and isolated. Bringing girls together with a positive focus can greatly help with this.
We’ve been lucky enough to partner with Swansea University to conduct research on the validity of the project, which will give us an even bigger insight into how our work affects and helps young people in these key areas, with an overarching exploration of the self objectification of young women.
This term we initially looked at group cohesion and identity, exploring what makes us unique and the similarities we share. From a facilitators perspective it’s been so lovely to see the groups bond and become confident to share their ideas and opinions with each other, as this was something they struggled with at the beginning.
We then explored physical activity as this was something most young people in the group did not enjoy, and the girls identified the reasons they didn’t enjoy PE in school, and what would encourage them to be more active. Often a more creative approach is needed to engage inactive young people, and we know that just providing different types of sport is not enough to overcome the many social and emotional barriers young people face.
This term the girls created their own ideas for physically active groups/clubs for girls their age and then pitched their ideas in a ‘dragons den’ style session to the rest of the group. This was a real highlight – their entrepreneurship skills were amazing, and the girls overcame their nerves and really got into it. The girls also took part in a “Dragon Challenge” to measure physical competence, and although they had reservations initially they were so proud of themselves when they had completed it.
At Girls Circle our main ethos is to help young women reach their full potential. It’s something we feel so passionate about, and we’re delighted to be able to have a significant impact on young women’s confidence, self-esteem and physical activity by conducting the project across a whole school year. It’s wonderful to see the fruits of our labour before our eyes and see the confidence of each individual growing.
We’re really looking forward to January when we will be focussing on developing girls’ aspirations and holding practical workshops around this theme with some really inspiring visitors coming in to the sessions to share their wisdom and be interviewed by the young people. Watch this space!
Would you like a similar project in your school or setting? Get in touch to learn more.