Help­ing girls em­brace in­di­vid­u­al­ity

The Invercargill Eye - - CONVERSATIONS - CATH FORD

Th­ese days there are many dis­trac­tions for girls in our com­mu­ni­ties, many of which can chal­lenge or in­flu­ence them in both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive ways.

Girls feel­ing good about them­selves and con­fi­dent in their abil­i­ties and in­di­vid­u­al­ity is a great plat­form from which to step into ado­les­cence and be­yond. Cur­rently only 197 girls in South­land are mak­ing the most of getting a chance to do this through Gir­lGuid­ing’s non­for­mal, ‘give it a go’ devel­op­ment pro­grammes.

This is only made pos­si­ble be­cause of the 26 men and women who vol­un­teer their time with the sup­port of many par­ents.

What causes the num­ber of girls in­volved to re­main rel­a­tively low is both of con­cern and chal­leng­ing to ad­dress.

In essence there are two fac­tors that con­trib­ute to this. One is a short­age of vol­un­teers who could share their time and help out in lo­cal groups. The other is the per­cep­tion around the cost for fam­i­lies be­ing too high.

Let’s clear up some mis­per­cep­tions about vol­un­teer­ing with Gir­lGuid­ing. Vol­un­teers run­ning pro­grammes in the com­mu­nity can be men or women and they don’t have to have any spe­cial skills or qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

A great start­ing point for vol­un­teer­ing is a will­ing­ness to en­sure good out­comes for girls.

Yes, there are cheaper ac­tiv­i­ties for girls in South­land than Gir­lGuid­ing, but there are also ac­tiv­i­ties that are more ex­pen­sive. It all comes down to parental choice. It is im­pos­si­ble to put a price tag on learn­ing or devel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and ex­pe­ri­ences that help a girl em­brace her in­di­vid­u­al­ity and be­lieve in her­self.

Com­mu­ni­ties and so­ci­eties change. Ed­u­ca­tion, med­i­cal sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy are chang­ing and evolv­ing. Gir­lGuid­ing has changed too – it en­cour­ages girls to have a say about what they do as well as what en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial or world is­sues con­cern them. Vol­un­teer­ing is about con­nect­ing with peo­ple in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

It is a pop­u­lar mis­per­cep­tion that you have to make a weekly com­mit­ment. Yes, many men and women do make that com­mit­ment, but there is also an op­tion to have a more flex­i­ble in­volve­ment with Gir­lGuid­ing.

Some vol­un­teers choose to be in­volved on a ro­ta­tional ba­sis, oth­ers as time per­mits, and for peo­ple happy to share their par­tic­u­lar skill or train­ing they can be en­gaged only when asked to do so. If a week night com­mit­ment is not for you, but you could do a week­end day, once a week, once a month or once a term, there is still a place for you!

As a com­mu­nity, is South­land step­ping up to ‘pay for­ward’ to girls who would ben­e­fit from in­ter­act­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment of fun and en­cour­age­ment and just be­ing a girl? Are there in­di­vid­u­als or or­gan­i­sa­tions that could spon­sor a girl or girls to be­long?

Cath Ford is re­cruit­ment man­ager for Gir­lGuid­ing NZ.

South­land Girl Guides have fun with group ac­tiv­i­ties.

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