Girl Guides are getting a new badge for talking about mental health

Girl Guides are getting a new badge for talking about mental health

Girlguiding has a long track record in the UK when it comes to teaching girls and young women useful skills ranging from camping and personal safety to science, first aid, cookery and crafts. Once Girl Guides have a new skill under their belt, they earn badges which can be sewn onto clothing or a camp blanket

Now, Girl Guides will have a new badge to earn. Girlguiding has launched a new badge programme to give girls an opportunity to talk about their mental wellbeing and resilience

 

The new programme, called Think Resilient, was created following requests from Girl Guides with the aim of breaking down the stigma surrounding the topic of mental health and wellbeing and to encourage more open and supportive conversations.

Young women in guiding aged between 14 and 25 who are trained to talk to their peers and younger girls about things like body confidence and healthy relationships — called ‘peer educators’ — will manage the programme.

Girl Guides will take part in sessions designed to teach girls about resilience and techniques for positive thinking, as well as helping them identify their support networks. Peer educators will also use interactive activities to help girls find positive ways of dealing with pressures and challenges in their lives.

Activities include learning self-calming techniques and responding to “agony aunt” letters (notes modeled after advice columnists) by breaking problems down into small, solvable steps.

The move comes after Girlguiding research in 2015 found that 82% of girls aged 11 to 21 feel that adults don’t recognise the pressure that young people are under, and 66% of girls aged 17 to 21 feel that mental health is awkward to talk about. The research was based on a survey of 1,574 respondents.

According to mental health charity Young Minds, one in 10 children and young people aged between 5 and 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder, and nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression.

Girlguiding’s chief guide, Gill Slocombe, said in a statement:

“Girlguiding listens to girls and we’ve created this inspiring new resource as a direct response to what girls told us they need.  I’m very proud of the young women in guiding involved in developing this programme that will have such a hugely positive impact on thousands of their peers across the UK.”

Christmas Chocolate Sprouts

Christmas brussel sprouts

On Saturday I led the Girl Guides District Carol Service, and used my favourite Christmas illustration – Chocolate Sprouts.

 

Preparation

  • Boil the Brussels Sprouts (make sure they’re not too soft) and stick them in the fridge overnight.
  • Next morning, melt the chocolate and dip the sprouts in so that they look like truffles.  Let them set on a baking tray, then put them in small cake cases and sprinkle them with cocoa powder.

Talk

At the start of the talk, announce that you love Christmas so much, that you want to share it with everybody, and that what you have with you is something that will always remind them of Christmas day – delicious truffles!

Ask for a couple of volunteers to see if they can emulate Christmas day, by eating as many truffles as they can in 1 minute.  Build up the expectation and emphasise the need for speed in the challenge.

Once the young people start eating the ‘truffles’, they’ll realise that there’s something not quite right and their facial expressions will change from ones of sheer delight, to ones of outright disgust a they discover the sprouts. (You may want to have a plastic bag handy at this point!)

OK, so it’s a bit revolting, but here’s the point.

Ask the young people who loves chocolate, and also, who loves sprouts.

Say that Christmas, for most of us is a time of celebration, indulgence and happiness.  We love the ‘niceness’ of the Christmas season. It’s a bit like chocolate!

Go on to say that for many people, Christmas is not an easy time. For some it’s a time of loneliness, homelessness and struggle. For many people, Christmas is like our experience of sprouts – something to struggle through.

You could mention the first Christmas as an example. Mary was blessed with the news that she was to be the mother of God’s son, but probably struggled with knowing that her life could be in danger because of her pregnancy.  A classic Eastenders storyline!

Challenge the young people to consider how they spend Christmas – to be grateful for the Christmas they have, and to be mindful of those who will struggle through Christmas.

Prayer

May our lives and our prayers be like lights shining in dark places.  And may the blessing of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – fill our hearts and homes with light this Christmas and in the new year to come.  Amen.