Monday, 12 February 2018

New engineering badges launched!

We’re delighted to launch two new engineering badges (one for Brownies, one for Guides) that have been developed in partnership with Engineers Ireland.

The syllabi for the badges, which include fun activities like making towers out of spaghetti and marshmallows and constructing mechanical hands, will help girls explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) activities and will hopefully encourage some to pursue STEM subjects and careers.

Over 150 Leaders were introduced to the badges at Branch Weekend, which ran from 9-11 February in Athlone. The Leaders experienced for themselves how doing the badges will enable girls to work through a variety of fun engineering challenges based on creative thinking, curiosity and team-work.

Welcoming the new badges, IGG Chief Commissioner Helen Concannon, said: “As one of the largest girl-only organisations in Ireland, we are delighted to partner with Engineers Ireland and harness our enthusiasm and their expertise to provide more opportunities for girls to engage with engineering concepts.

“Girl Guides is a movement and always strives to move with the times and remain relevant to young people while challenging stereotypes. We believe in our girls’ capabilities and want them to develop their skills in STEM so this partnership is an ideal one for us. If we want to solve the world’s challenges, we must ensure that both boys and girls can aspire to become engineers.”

Director General of Engineers Ireland, Caroline Spillane, said: “Engineering is about working collaboratively, being creative, and finding new ways to solve problems and the Irish Girl Guides is a dynamic and community-focussed organisation which very much shares these values. We are delighted to have collaborated on this initiative to inspire young girls to think positively about engineering and to build awareness of the immense possibilities a career in engineering can offer.”

You can read the press release that was issued about the new engineering badges here.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Activate Voices Against Violence Day 3

What an exciting last day we had!

The group convened after a hearty breakfast and in threes presented a selection of the Voices Against Violence curriculum activities. The curriculum is divided into four age ranges: Early Years (5-7 years), Young Years (7-11 years), Middle Years (11-16 years) and Older Years (17-25 years). Each curriculum topic is divided into six parts: Start, Think, Identify, Support, Speak Out and Take Action. This is beneficial as it gives us a clear link to how the activities fit into our Journey Programme.

Siobhán presented a great Human Rights Musical Chair Game - you had to be there!

In the afternoon we participated in a video conference with Nefeli Themeli - the WAGGGS Global Programme Manager calling from Athens and Jean-Ann Ndow, the Advocacy Manager for the Stop the Violence campaign calling from London. Their presentation focussed on the place of the Voices Against Violence campaign and curriculum within the mission and vision of WAGGGS. We then discussed the five pillars of the Stop the Violence campaign: Awareness Raising; Education Programme; Research and Policy; Lobbying Programme; Campaign Action Plans. 

Nefeli and Jean-Ann identified the role as "influencing others to take decisions that improve our lives and the lives of others", and how action must be targeted at decision-makers within society. Their presentation concluded with inspiring examples of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts advocating for girls and young women around the world.

The afternoon concluded with a discussion led by Tanya Tulloch on the role of monitoring and evaluation in advocacy work.

Following Chalet up-keep duties and a nourishing dinner, the whole group trekked across a snow-covered field and found the campfire where we sat and sang local and international Guiding action songs. It was so much fun. We then returned to the T-bar where we continued to chat and share stories and badges well into the night.

As this is our first international Leaders' training we would like to reflect on what an amazing experience this has been. To have the opportunity to discuss these issues with Leaders from all corners of the world has been wonderful, hearing their stories and talking through the issues with these inspirational women.

Our Chalet itself is just incredible, we are blessed to have this jewel as a World Centre and we would both love to visit again and would recommend any of you to do so if the opportunity arises.

~ Mary Beare Aust & Siobhán Pulis

Activate Voices Against Violence Day 2

Our first session today began with dispelling the myths around violence against women. Each working group was assigned one of the seven appointed topics being covered by the campaign; we identified myths around each topic and developed strategies to bust them. Feedback led to a discussion on current campaigns being run in various countries e.g. Ask for Angela and Don't Fly.

After mid-morning break Lisa facilitated on the meaning of consent after which groups were given scenarios and asked to decide whether 'free and informed consent' was given in each case. Following on from this a discussion on the importance of working with men and boys to understand and promote Stop the Violence in partnership with Member Organisations.

After lunch and the traditional Chalet group photo we partook in a privilege awareness activity whereby we were allocated various amounts of money per group and, from a list of privileges, had to prioritise which we could afford to buy and discuss why.

The campaign curriculum and associated handbooks were circulated to give us an insight as to how the programme is structured for delivery. These consisted of a Leader handbook and four for younger members ranging from 5 -25 years.

The three facilitators each demonstrated a delivery style i.e. lecturer, teacher and facilitator and the group discussed the merits and drawbacks of each style.

The model of group dynamics from formation to performance was demonstrated through the clip from The Lion King called 'Four stages of team development'.

We were divided into groups of three and given an age group and activity from the curriculum. This was our entertainment for the remainder of the evening prepping and planning our delivery in the morning to the other participants!

Our closing reflection focused on sharing two things we will take away form the past two days’ sessions. Gotta go back to work chat tomorrow 😊

~ Emer Maher and Deirdre Henley

Activate Voices Against Violence, Day 1

Waking up to snowy mountains put us all in good form for our first full day of Activate training in the WAGGGS Voices Against Violence curriculum.

After breakfast, we came together to meet our fellow Guiders. Representing over 15 Member Organisations (MOs), our facilitators told us that ours was the biggest Activate group that WAGGGS has trained so far. We were split into working groups before the traditional ice-breaker game. However, today's game was played in silence to emphasise that it didn't matter that we spoke a range of different languages.

Then down to work: our introductory session covered issues around confidentiality, disclosure, and creating a safe space. Faced with the stark fact that 6 out of 10 women will experience violence in their lifetime, it's obvious that WAGGGS is in a unique position to make a difference through education, raising awareness and taking action. Through role play we explored what Voices Against Violence campaigns MOs have undertaken in other countries, from flash mobs in Peru to addressing parents' associations in Nigeria. As the eventual aim of this week is to adapt this curriculum for IGG, it was interesting to explore what other Guiding associations are doing with it.

Our next session on child protection was fascinating as we discovered how this topic is treated around the world. Compared to some countries, it was apparent that Irish Girl Guides has a very progressive child protection policy in place.

Lunch was eaten back in the main chalet. Swapping stories and experiences with Leaders from around the world is always a huge part of any World Centre experience. Activate has brought together a wonderfully diverse group of Leaders and Chalet staff and volunteers (vollies), with representatives from El Salvador, Lebanon, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the US, alongside Iceland, Greece, Finland, UK, Germany, Austria and Finland. And, of course, us Irish. Sangam World Centre and the nearby Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC) are also represented.

After lunch, our sessions focussed on gender and sexuality, gender-based violence, gender inequalities, and human rights. We examined stereotypes, discussed sexual orientation, and debated the difference between gender and sex. We watched an informative TEDx talk by Sam Killermann on 'Understanding the Complexities of Gender', which is well worth looking up.

After a heavy day's work we were ready for dinner. But first our Chalet duties. As many of the Chalet staff and vollies are taking part in Activate, we all have chores to help spread the workload. Today was mostly polishing and cleaning toilets and bathrooms, and figuring out Our Chalet's extensive and effective recycling system. Everything is recycled here, so you have to make sure to separate your paper from your general waste, your Tetra packs from your PET plastics, and your food waste from your compost. But after sitting down for most of the day, even running back up to the attic (for the fourth time) to fill the soap dispenser was done in good spirits with laughter and humour.

After dinner, Swiss Night gave us lots of laughs too - from the acting talents (!) displayed in our William Tell play, to new and quirky facts learned in Who Wants to be a Swiss Millionaire? Chocolate fondue for supper rounded off a great day at Our Chalet.

~ Carol-Anne O'Reilly

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy

My name is Sinéad Crilly. I’m a Guide leader in Drogheda and Chair of Irish Girl Guides Membership, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee. In December I was lucky enough to attend a unique and inspiring event in the fabulous setting of Dogpatch Labs in Dublin’s CHQ building.

Ireland is the first country in the world to commit to developing an LGBTI+ strategy specifically dedicated to young people. In late 2016 work began on discovering the views of Ireland’s young LGBTI community on their lives, society and the future.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs invited young people from all over Ireland to come together on Saturday 9 December in Dublin to celebrate Pride, Pals and PerspectivesThe event saw the launch of the Youth Consultation Reportwhich will inform the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy and represents the voices, aspirations, ideas and input from 4,000 young people nationwide.

The event began with different organisations showcasing their work over the past year. I visited all the stands and spoke to incredible people. One was Katie McGloin of KT Clothing, a gender neutral company she launched in TY which led her to many awards, including Foróige’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and BelongTo were represented along with many diverse groups. Lots of people wanted to speak to me about Guiding and Scouting. A number of people commented on IGG’s inclusive nature and our progress in the last few years. Delicious lunch of pizza, salads and doughnuts went down really well with the attendees. I also got lots of swag!

Maria Walsh, former Rose of Tralee, was our MC for the day and she spoke movingly about her own experiences as a lesbian in the public eye. She encouraged us to ask permission before posting or streaming anyone else as they may not be out at home etc. Maria picked out interesting responses from the consultations. She introduced Úna Mullally, chair of the oversight committee and Irish Times journalist, who explained how the strategy is being developed.

Before speaking about their involvement in the consultation, members of the youth advisory group told us which pronouns they prefer, which was a demonstration of how a simple thing can make a huge difference to a trans or non-binary person. They showed us the video they had created summarising the research, which went down very well, particularly the finding that most services for LGBT youth are in Dublin,

Dr Katherine Zappone, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, who has responsibility for the strategy, received a rapturous welcome. She spoke about how different life is for the gay community now compared to how it was for her as a young person.

There was a break for networking and ice-cream! I took the time to sit and read the report from cover to cover as I found it fascinating and feel it will inform my committee’s outlook on sexuality and gender issues.

After lunch, no stranger to IGG, James Kavanagh had us in the palm of his hand with his hilarious anecdotes. However, he also told us about the bullying he received before he was out. He repeated a story he had told when he appeared on The Late Late Show with his brother John. It was about a classmate putting a stop to a vicious note circulating about him. It was the first time he realised there were good people out there who would accept him for who he is. He emphasised the progress made by the LGB community and how, although not perfect, most people have a good quality of life. It is not the same for trans people and he implored all those in the room to help progress trans rights.
We met Jack Murphy, the first trans actor to appear on Fair City and he was a great storyteller too. He spoke about the support he gets from fellow actors and YouTubers and encouraged the committee in their work.

The entire day was filled with love, positivity and acceptance. It was one of the most inspiring events I have ever attended and I would like to thank IGG for sending me.


Department of Children and Youth Affairs >>

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Crumlin Hospital Guide Unit wins Olave Award!

Well done to Crumlin Hospital Girl Guide Unit, which has received an Olave Award from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) in recognition of its “outstanding service to the community”.
The Olave Award is an international award to honour the memory of the World Chief Guide, Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, and to keep alive her belief in the spirit of service. It is awarded by WAGGGS to Girl Guide groups around the world that have created change in their communities.
IGG Leader Róisín Fitzgerald, who runs the Crumlin Hospital Girl Guide Unit with a team of volunteer Leaders, says: “We are delighted that Crumlin Hospital Girl Guide Unit has been recognised by WAGGGS for the role we play in bringing a new fun experience to children who are ill in hospital. We are very proud to be associated with other outstanding projects across the Guiding world.
“Each week we meet brave children who are facing health challenges at a young age. We offer them a brief distraction during their stay in hospital and give them an opportunity to have fun, to learn new skills, and to meet fellow patients that they would not otherwise get the opportunity to meet. The commitment of the Leaders over the last nine years has been outstanding and their enthusiasm for the project has ensured the service that we provide is of the highest standard.”
Crumlin Hospital Girl Guide Unit, which was established in 2008, is the first and only Guide Unit active in a hospital in Ireland. This unique project was set up to bring Guiding to children who are in need of fun and distraction from their illnesses. Once a week a group of volunteer Leaders bring girls aged seven upwards away from their wards for an hour and a half of fun and activities.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Network Meeting

The Network Meeting is a joint event with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) in Europe, which brings together people from across Europe who are active in representing their organisations on external forums, such as on their National Youth Councils. IGG Leader Jemma Lee, who was on the planning team for the Network Meeting as a Europe Region volunteer, writes about her experience:

There were seven of us on the planning team, two volunteers and one staff member from both WAGGGS and WOSM, as well as a member of the Malta Girl Guides who were hosting the event this year. We met in London for a planning meeting in October, which was really useful and it’s sometimes just easier to get work done in person rather than over the internet! We planned most of the event in two days and all went home with a long to-do list to get all the sessions finalised.

On 6 November I flew to Malta and we had one day to put the final touches to our plans before the participants started to arrive. We had 29 participants from around Europe, including a Georgian Girl Scout who had been on activity staff at IGGNITE and was very excited to see me in my camp t-shirt!
We also had a number of experts and guest speakers fly in over the course of the week, one of whom I had volunteered with in Sangam in 2008 and hadn’t met in person since. It always amazes me how small the world Guiding and Scouting community really is!

During the week we took turns delivering the sessions. Participants learned about the European decision-making structures, they presented to us their own country’s work on external relations and they identified priorities for advocacy and taking action after they went back home.

We were also very well looked after by our Maltese hosting team who organised the evening programmes, taking us to the walled city of Mdina for a ghost tour and late night snacks, and over to Gozo island on a ferry for an evening of traditional Maltese food.

As a Europe Region volunteer, I’m excited to see what kind of projects I end up getting involved in over the next two years! My main role at the moment is to link with the European Women’s Lobby and to continue to find ways that WAGGGS Europe can get involved in gender equality issues in Europe.

You will be able to read more about my Europe Region volunteering experiences in the International edition of Trefoil News, which will be available from 8 January 2018.