I have been involved in a workshop geared towards Grades 7 and 8 girls for the past three years that discusses topics directly linked to young girls’ self-esteem called Teen Esteem. The turnout is always impressive and the event can be a lot of fun. There is one session per week and each week a different topic is discussed. Several activities involved assist the volunteers in engaging the young women in discussing a particular topic. Here’s what it looks like:
At the beginning of each session, the girls are divided into different groups so that every week they sit with a different volunteer. They are given booklets that they fill out and use for the activities. The volunteers introduce themselves and we give some insight as to what our self-esteem was like at their age, and we give examples depending on the topic of the week.
The topics discussed include self-esteem, body image, relationships with friends and family (including bullying), romantic relationships (including abusive relationships), stress and mental health, and the final session is about social media. During these activities, my job as a volunteer is to talk about these topics with the girls. I hope to get them to open up and talk about what’s troubling them, find out how their self-esteem is, and consider what they can do to improve it. Many of the times, girls talk about what is going on at home and I’ve learned that a lot of a these young women’s self-esteem stems from what is occurring there. They are deeply affected by what happens with their parents/caregivers or siblings. This in turn affects the way they behave outside of the home with their peers, teachers and any other person involved in their lives. Imagine the domino effect when you add in the pressures kids face today with school work, peer pressure, trying to fit in, etc.
My hope is that these young women take something away from this program; something that made sense to them that will help in their healthy decision-making, proper stress relief techniques and how to feel good about themselves. Like Girl Guides, we hope to teach the girls how to respect themselves and others, to be true to themselves, recognize their talents and abilities, and to live with courage and strength.
By guest blogger Lori Szymanski (former Girl Guide!)