I didn’t plan on hosting a meeting based on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, but I’m glad it happened. As part of a multi-branch group, I have trouble connecting the Violence Against Women program work that the older group does with my Sparks. This year, instead of trying to find substitute activities for the often too mature content, I planned to just do work from the Exploring and Experimenting badge.
But, this was also the meeting where one of our Brownie leaders was introducing her service project to the entire group: this year, to tie in with the National Day of Action, she had decided we would be donating toiletries to L’Escale de l’Éstrie, a battered women’s shelter serving Sherbrooke and area. To introduce this topic, she asked the girls to think of why it might be important for girls and women to have a safe place to go. Some girls gave answers like, “there might be an animal at home that likes to eat people,” but ultimately, most of the older girls seemed to understand that sometimes there are people at home who are “mean to those they should be taking care of.”
The Sparks were very quiet during the entire discussion of what a healthy relationship is, and what to do if you feel unsafe. When we separated from the group to do our own activities, I took a minute to ask them what they’d learned from the Brownie leader’s talk.
I was surprised to learn that they were silent because they didn’t know what a relationship was.
You have relationships with your boss, your friends, your teachers, your girl Members, and many more people who also have relationships with you. Most of us take the healthy relationships we have for granted, and also don’t remember a time when we didn’t know what a relationship was. How could I explain this to a Spark? Eventually, after a couple botched attempts to explain myself, a smart Spark piped up to help me. “I think it’s like, you want to help that person, and you care about what happens to them,” she explained to me, and then she told me that when you’re being nice to someone, you follow the Golden Rule. When asked what happens when someone’s being mean to you, all three of them gave different answers. One declared that meanness makes her sad, another that it makes her angry enough to want to be mean back, and the third that she usually just cries and that’s it.
So, to clarify what the Brownie leader had already talked about, how to get help in an unhealthy relationship, I asked them what they should do if someone’s being mean to them. The girls initially said nothing. Finally, the same Spark quietly said to the girl next to her, “Maybe we could just tell them we love them.”
Shortly after, I concluded our discussion by asking them to draw pictures of what they had learned from that night’s talk. The drawings that came out were beautiful renditions of rainbows (who love everybody and are happy all the time), people being nice to everybody, and one girl’s carefully written sentence “You can go to them [shelters] in the middle of the night.” To my Sparks, the definition of a relationship became the love you show that person.
By guest blogger Guider Shannon, 1st Lennoxville Guiding Unit, (QC) and Lennoxville District Public Relations Advisor.