Sustaining our work

I am often asked by schools for suggested follow-up activities they can do to sustain the girls’ interest and enthusiasm for the work Enlighten Education ignites when we run our programs. I thought it timely to share some best-practice approaches.

Positive representations of women
Positive representations of women

Mater Dei Catholic College in Wagga Wagga recently ran a full-day Butterfly Effect program for their Year 9 students. The program also served as a “train the trainer” session for selected Year 11 students who would be acting as mentors for their younger sisters in the months to come. One of the first activities the girls all engaged in after our session was the completion of art projects that deconstructed media images of women; they were asked to find representations of women that they found helpful and positive, and to identify those that they felt perpetuated negative self-image in women.

Questions the girls were asked to consider as part of this process included:

1. What part of the body does the image centre on and why?

2. Is this an accurate representation of how real women look? Why or why not?

3. In what ways do these images impact on young women and girls?

4. What is the possible effect of these images on young men?

Kellyville High School adopted a similar peer-support concept for their Year 8 students with their “Sellerbrating Sisterhood” initiative. A full day was set aside three weeks after our program; this timing coincides with the completion of the 21-day positive self-talk challenge Enlighten leaves girls with. The girls were then introduced to their Year 11 “Big Sisters”, who all completed our course in 2009. Together, the students debriefed and participated in a series of extension activities, which included the formulation of a group action plan to avoid “toxic talk”, the identification of support networks girls can access both within the school and wider community, the creation of a “girls only” space within the school, and the setting up of an internal mail system where the Year 8 “enlightened” students could correspond with their Big Sisters.

In previous blog posts I have shared ideas that would also make excellent follow-ups:

Do you have any activities you’d like to share?

2 thoughts on “Sustaining our work

  1. Jane Higgins says:

    I believe it is so important for the girls to have continued dialogue around the topics we have covered with them during an Enlighten Day. We open up for them the possibility that life can be different from the bitching, nastiness and self doubt and they desperately need and want more safe space to explore themselves. Great ideas Danni to help schools continue the discussions. xx

  2. Francesca says:

    I agree Jane, there is no doubt that girls who have participated in an Enlighten program benefit from it. You need only see their response on the day and read many of the feedback comments. I recently met a lady who enthusiastically mentioned that her 25 year old daughter enjoyed an Enlighten day many years ago and they still have conversations today regarding ‘Girlworld’. I believe that continuing the dialogue an Enlighten day generates is a fantastic way of keeping girls in a positive empowered frame of mind. It also gives girls a chance to connect with others and have their opinions heard. Activities such as the ones you have mentioned Danni sound like great fun and I believe would reinforce learning by triggering many powerful conversations amongst girls, teachers and friends. The more we talk about issues such as body image with our girls the better chance we have of helping them deal with the many toxic and mixed messages propagated by the media and pop culture in general.

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