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.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

It's Our Brexit Too!

Four members of Ardagh Senior Branch, Co Longford, took part in a cross-border conference, It’s Our Brexit Too, organised by the Ombudsman for Children Office (OCO) and Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY). Here Nora-May Pearman Howard writes of their experience:

We arrived in Newry for registration at 11am on Friday 10 November. After the Brexit referendum in June of last year it became clear to NICCY and the Ombudsman for Children that not enough concern for the rights of children had been put into the decision. In June 2017 a steering committee was formed with over 20 children from the North and the Republic. This group would go on to organise the youth forum in question over a span of five months. The conference was an opportunity for children and young people to come together to discuss Brexit and how it will affect us in the future. The information we collected will be spread and hopefully acknowledged by the governments on both sides.
We started the day with tea and scones. We were then welcomed by Koulla Yiasouma, the Northern Irish Commissioner for Children and Young People and a video message from Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was unable to attend. We were presented with the key themes by members of the steering groups and then began the youth café.

People spread around 14 tables and 7 topics, identity and non-discrimination, family life, nationality and travel, child protection, non-EU children needing extra protection, health and disability, education and standard of living. Each table had at least one person running the conversation. As much as possible the conversations were led by the youths and listened to by adults. On each table was a large sheet and several markers; whenever a relevant point arose, it was written down on the sheet. Each session lasted 18 minutes before participants moved on to the next table.

After the first three sessions we broke for lunch, which lasted about 45 minutes. Following lunch we did two more rounds so everyone got to discuss five of the seven topics. When we finished the youth café we received feedback from MP Chloe Smith. Then came a panel question and answer session with several MPs from the North and Republic of Ireland. This was conducted through an app called sli.do in which people submitted their questions and others voted for the ones they were most concerned about. We finished with some closing comments from Dr. Niall Muldoon, the Ombudsman for Children.

In conclusion, I feel as if the day was very productive, the table I was running had several good conversations and good points came from them. The app sli.do was used throughout the day, through which several live polls were conducted. The information we collected from the day will prove valuable throughout the remainder of the Brexit deal-making.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Cookie selling a runaway success!

Let’s face it! Who does not like cookies?

Carrigdoun Girl Guides took on the challenge to sell 1,500 packets of cookies to fundraise for new camping equipment and art materials.

It’s important for us to fundraise, to ask our families, friends and community to support us.

I have learnt that not everyone could eat the cookies I was selling due to
food allergies. I had to remember all the information our Leaders gave and then I was able to answer customers' questions. It was important to explain that the monies raised by selling the cookies would be staying in the local Girl Guide Unit. When we were selling cookies out in the community it was important to wear our uniforms to show who we were representing. I really enjoyed selling most of my cookies to my classmates!

We had planned to do two cookie selling days in our local Supervalu. On the first day of selling we completely sold out of all our cookies! We were so happy with the community support shown on the day.

We enjoyed setting out goals and working together to achieve these while also gaining valuable skills along the way.

Rihanna Wrenne, Carrigdhoun Girl Guides

Mission to Mars Lego Robotics

Fourteen Guides and Senior Branchers took part in a Mission to Mars Lego Robotics Autumn Academy in Cork during the mid-term break.

It was hoped that, by taking part in the Academy run by the Dublin City University Lego Education Innovation Studio, the girls would be enthused to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects in school and, perhaps, consider careers in STEM.

Following the course, Eve Cunningham of Schull Senior Branch said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the camp and I would highly recommend it to other Guides. I would love to pursue a job in STEM.”

The girls, who were aged 13 to 19, gained a range of skills in computational thinking, engineering and programming during the course, which was engaging and hands-on.

The girls are grateful that they are getting to experience the practical side of STEM through Guiding.

Erin Scott of Kenmare Guides said: “I liked the course, I thought it was very interesting and I have learnt many new things, such as coding and building, and now I understand what STEM is.”

Siun O’Reilly of Arbutus Guides said it was one of the most enjoyable weeks of her life. “I have made some amazing new friends and I definitely think I might want to pursue a job in STEM,” she said.

Sophie Moore of Edenderry Guides said: “At our Lego Robotics camp we overcame programme errors, expanded our knowledge of coding and made new friends. It was a blast!”

During the course, the girls skyped with Irish space enthusiast Dr Niamh Shaw who was in the European Space Centre.

IGG Chief Commissioner Helen Concannon said: “Irish Girl Guides are always trying to challenge stereotypes and, by partnering with Dublin City University, we can give our girls opportunities to build robots, programme rovers to explore Mars and develop problem-solving skills. All this is useful for everyday life as well as giving the girls a taste of careers in engineering, science and technology. Seeing these girls embrace the challenges presented to them is inspiring. The future is safe in the hands of our youth representatives doing this course.”

You can see lots of photos here.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Lucan Guides will treasure their London memories!

The first day began with an early start as we had a flight to London at 6:30, which meant meeting up at the airport at 4:30am! We were all very tired, but the excitement powered us through.

We arrived at Stansted and got the train to Victoria station where we collected our Oyster cards. Then we decided that since we were so close, we would go to Kings Cross station and see platform nine and three quarters. There we waited in a line (for a very long time) and got pictures underneath the platform sign! Some of us bought merchandise from the shop. Then we headed to Trafalgar Square for a Harry Potter walking tour!

There was a very nice tour guide who brought us all around London, telling us things about J.K. Rowling, such as where she got her inspiration for writing about Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley (which was a bit spooky)! The tour ended at Hyde Park. We said ‘thank you’ to the tour guide (his name was JJ) and we went straight off to get lunch in McDonald’s.

Soon after, we went to Girl Guiding UK’s shop, but on the way we visited Buckingham Palace. There we saw the beautiful palace and the guards. Girl Guiding UK’s Shop looked lovely and there were lots of cool things to buy there. There were badges and pins, notebooks and mugs, and even the UK Girl Guiding uniform!

Everyone bought their items and off we headed again to Pax Lodge! When we arrived there, we were buzzing with excitement! It was so big and modern and the rooms were fabulous! We left our bags in our rooms and went for pizza in a restaurant nearby. We waited for the pizzas for a long while but when they were finally served, it was all worth it.

Afterwards, we went back to Pax Lodge and swapped our badges in the swap box. Then two very nice ladies hosted some fun activities for us. We did puzzles, we hunted for things all around the world centre and we learned how to make cool decorations for our neckers. Afterwards, we had tea in the fabulous kitchen and we went to bed happily.

The next morning we got up and we had a delicious breakfast in Pax Lodge. Next, we attended a ceremony where we were given some beautiful pins that you can only get if you actually visit Pax Lodge World Centre! We sang the World Song around the Pax Lodge flag and we made a promise to honour our new pin.

After that, we went back inside and bought some really cool things from the shop such as badges, mugs and t-shirts. Just when we were getting ready to leave, some leaders from another UK Girl Guide Unit gave us some of their badges and we gave them some of ours. They were visiting Pax Lodge as one of the Leaders was celebrating a 51st birthday! We left Pax Lodge with a smile on our faces because it had been an amazing experience that none of us will ever forget.

After having a great start to our Sunday morning, we headed off back to central London to continue our holiday. We started by going to Chinatown, and we had a look around. It was very interesting to see so many shops and restaurants from a different culture. After that, we visited Buckingham Palace and witnessed the changing of the guard. It was organised very well, and I loved being able to watch such a famous event. While waiting for M&M World to open, we headed off to Trafalgar square and found the smallest police station in London. We also witnessed two protests while in London and these really showed the true spirit of the Londoners and how they care about society. After spending a while exploring, we decided to go back to Leicester Square and shop in M&M World. It was such an enormous building and it was a lot of fun to look around. Despite being in the M&M shop, everyone was starving, so we went to a very nice small sandwich shop.

Once we were all fed, we went on a boat tour of the River Thames. It was beautiful and everybody loved seeing all of the great bridges, Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, and many more famous landmarks. We also had a great tour guide who was very informative. Once the tour had finished, we set off towards the underground and travelled to the Science Museum. We used the underground many times during our trip, and we had gotten the hang of it.

The Science Museum was extremely interesting and it was great that there were so many interactive activities and many things aimed at our age group, including games and songs. After spending a few hours in the museum, everybody was hungry once again so we visited a lovely restaurant called ‘Pizza Express’ which is the equivalent to Ireland's ‘Milanos’. In Pizza Express we devoured our food while exchanging jokes and giggles.

After having an amazing day, it was time to return home. We took the tube as well as the train, and headed to the airport. The airport process went very smoothly since all of us had learned how to navigate security and board a plane. The flight went well and before we knew it, we were back in Ireland.

Our trip to London was such a fantastic experience that we will never forget, and it wouldn’t have been possible without our Leaders, so we would like to thank them very much, and we will all treasure our memories from this holiday.

The Academy offers amazing personal growth!

“You have to try the impossible to achieve the possible.” If we take this thought and use it as a window into our adventures at The Academy 2017 it will only give you a small insight into the amazing personal growth that this event offers. 

We attended many sessions with the underlying theme of ‘change’ running throughout.  These sessions were like seeds, planting thoughts to grow for the future but most of all highlighting that today’s thoughts must become tomorrow’s realities.

The Academy is a holistic training tool that encourages both social and educational growth.  We had the opportunity to take part in various challenges throughout the week that pushed us to work collaboratively. These included tasks based on Hungarian culture and a 12km “lost in translation” hike in the glorious darkness that swells above the Danube. 

It has allowed us to build our personal memory palace where our thoughts and dreams for the future now live thanks to the Hungarian Scout movement and the incredible Academy event.

~ Mena Timoney and Helen O’Reilly

Thursday, 2 November 2017

'My amazing time at Polaris Youth Forum'

At 11:40am on Friday 27 October 2017, I left Monaghan Bus Station for Dublin Airport to meet a Leader called Joanna and another Senior Brancher called Nora May, who are both from Longford. Once I found my fellow IGG members in the maze of escalators and people carrying suitcases, that is Dublin airport, we soon boarded our flight to Glasgow.

The flight from Dublin to Glasgow was very short; we were literally in the sky, when the pilot was telling us to get ready for landing. In Glasgow Airport we met Annmarie, Orna and Méabh from Cork. All six of us headed for Auchengillan Outdoor Centre, just outside Glasgow. On Friday evening we were introduced to all Scottish Leaders and Senior Section members who would become our friends over the weekend. We were also given an outline of what we would be doing over the weekend and we also did a scavenger hunt.

On Saturday we got to go pole-climbing or abseiling; I chose pole-climbing. I had never done this before and I am not a fan of heights so this was a bit of a challenge but I was proud of myself once I reached the top because I can usually get no more than a metre or two off the ground! In the afternoon a woman called Jane came in to talk to us about public speaking. She was from a charity called Speakers Trust. I thought this was very useful because public speaking is a vital skill that everyone will require at some point in their life. Later we gave our opinions on new logos, names and straplines, which could be used for the Youth Forum (Polaris*) weekend in the future, as they were trying to rebrand it. That evening we went to a campfire which was organised by a group of Scouts, Cubs and Beavers who were camping at Auchengillan Outdoor Centre. I really enjoyed this and it was great to hear some Scottish campfire songs. Afterwards, back at The Providore Building, where we were staying, we had a table quiz. Joanna, Jennifer (from Scotland) and I made up the winning team.

After breakfast on Sunday morning we talked about sexism and gender stereotypes, as part of the campaign for Girlguiding Scotland in 2018. We talked about how sexism can affect girls and women in day to day life and different activities which could be organised from Rainbows/Ladybirds, Brownies, Guides and Senior Section/Senior Branch members to make people more aware of these issues. We also talked about what events could be organised for Senior Section members in 2019 and we told them about some Irish events that we had. I then got some swaps from the Senior Section members as well as the Scouts, Beavers and Cubs. We said “Goodbye” and headed for the airport, were we bought some Scottish souvenirs and got on our flights back to Dublin and Cork.

Overall, we had an amazing weekend, the people of Girlguiding Scotland were very friendly and the food cooked by Vicky and Beth (two Scottish leaders) was delicious. I thought the subject of sexism and gender stereotypes was very well chosen as they are quite topical in today’s society. Auchengillan Outdoor Centre had fantastic facilities for all adventure-enthusiasts. I would highly recommend Youth Forum (Polaris*) to anyone who wants to meet new people and voice their opinion on current issues in a safe environment.

I had a great weekend and I would like to thank Hannah, Gale, Vicky, Beth and all the people from Girlguiding Scotland who organised this event, Joanna and Annmarie who travelled to Scotland with us Irish Senior Branchers and IGG for giving me this amazing opportunity.

~ Lauren Mooney