Tuesday, 24 April 2018

National Good Turn Week!

Irish Girl Guides members are carrying out a good turn each day during National Good Turn Week (23-29 April). With 12,000 members, that adds up to a whopping 84,000 #GoodTurns in one week. Wow!

There’s lots of ways girls will be carrying out #GoodTurns. They may help with housework, offer to walk a neighbour's dog or do shopping for an elderly neighbour. They could raise money for charity by holding a bake sale or by taking part in An Taisce's Spring Clean with their Unit.

They could let someone go ahead of them in a queue or donate some toys to charity. They could do a good turn for the environment by walking or cycling to school or turning off the tap while brushing their teeth.

We’re asking everyone to share their good turns on social media using the hashtag #GoodTurns

#GoodTurns are a great way of having a positive impact on the people around us – our families and our communities. By carrying out good turns daily, the value of volunteering is impressed upon our members from a young age.

National Good Turn Week links to the Journey Programme in the following ways:

Ladybirds Discover Compulsory Challenge No. 2 “Learn about different ways to help others at home/playground/school.”

Brownies Detect Compulsory Challenge No. 6 “Keep a record of your good turns for a week.”

Guides Pathfinder - Becoming a Guide Compulsory Challenge no. 10 “Keep a record of good turns carried out for a week.”

Watch a video here to see how Corrina of Griffeen Valley Guides, Lucan, is marking National Good Turn Week!

Friday, 20 April 2018

IGG's new award-winning Ambassadors!

We are delighted that award-winning entrepreneurs, Kate and Annie Madden, are our new Ambassadors!

The Meath sisters, who were prize-winners at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition in 2015 and who now head up a thriving equine health business, were named Honorary Ambassadors at IGG’s annual Council meeting held in Dublin on 7 April. They were chosen in recognition of the trail they have blazed for girls and young women in Ireland.

Kate (age 17) and Annie (age 16) won their prize at BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition with a study that looked at encouraging horses to eat by adding flavours to their feed. Little did they know that three years later, what started out as a science project would turn into a business involving eight people, and with exports to 15 countries over four continents.

FenuHealth produces powdered supplements that are sprinkled on top of equine feed to help prevent and solve the widespread problem of gastric ulcers in horses. The company has earned, among other accolades, an Enterprise Ireland People’s Choice Award in 2016.

Kate and Annie were presented with a Trailblazer Award by IGG President Maureen Murphy at IGG’s Council meeting. “We are delighted that Kate and Annie Madden are our Ambassadors and congratulate them on their many achievements,” said Maureen. “They are inspirational peers for all our members. They are the good news story for young people today.

“In Guiding we support the girls and young women, as individuals, to reach their own full potential in a safe, fun environment that offers many different choices and opportunities. So having Kate and Annie here shows how dreams can come true and how everything is possible.”

On receiving the award, Kate said: “We are delighted to take on the role of Honorary Ambassadors for Irish Girl Guides over the coming year. Some of our school friends are Girl Guides and we are hugely impressed with the confidence and skills which they have. They are all well-rounded people with excellent life and business skills that show themselves in both commercial and social innovation”.

Annie said: “We love the fact that IGG helps girls to develop business skills through their Future CEOs cookie-selling programme and encourages them to pursue STEM activities through its Science Investigator and Engineering badges and Lego Robotics workshops. Our motto in FenuHealth is ‘never give up’ and this is a perfect match for the positivity and enthusiasm which is central to the Irish Girl Guides.

“We are really looking forward to meeting with many of the members in the year ahead. Both Kate and I know that we will learn a lot from the Irish Girl Guides – just as in business, there comes a time when you must stop talking about what you are going to do and just do it! We are really looking forward to being out of our comfort zone and learning new skills.”

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Tivoli and Whitechurch Guides' trip to London

Members of Tivoli and Whitechurch Guides went on an adventure to England over Easter. Here three of the Guides write about their experience.

First Camille says:
“So over the Easter holidays four Guides from Tivoli and 5 Whitechurch Guides and three Leaders went to the New Forest and London for four nights. We stayed in Foxlease, which is near Southampton. There we did tunnelling; it was raining and mucky! We also did bonding exercises, which were fun.
“We got a bus to London and did some shopping when we got there. After that we went to Nandos. Then we got the underground back to Pax Lodge (one of the WAGGGS World Centres) and had a good night’s sleep.
“The next day we went to Tower Bridge and the Science Museum. Lastly we went to Platform 9¾, which was so much fun!
“On the last day we went to London City Airport but our plane was cancelled. Four of us got a plane from City Airport and the rest of us went to Heathrow. In the end we made it home, though, so that’s all that matters.
“All in all, it was an amazing trip with lots of great experiences. We are very grateful to all the Leaders for putting up with us!”

Rebecca says:
“On 31 March, we woke up early at Foxlease and had breakfast. Then we stripped the beds and cleaned up the barn where we were staying. We then packed our lunch, and left our suitcases in the hallway. Then our taxi came and we drove to a coach station. We drove on the coach for two hours approximately. Then we arrived in London. We got a bus to Pax Lodge and, when we arrived, we ate our lunch.
“We then left our bags in our room and left on the bus again. We stopped in London and started walking to a Guide shop. The buildings in London were very modern and fascinating. There were lots of red buses and red telephone boxes. We went on lots of tube trains during the trip and they were very fun.
“Compared to Dublin, it was a lot more busy and there was a lot more to do and see. Around every corner there were lots of shops and landmarks. When we got to the shop we looked around and bought some souvenirs. We continued on walking and we went to Covent Garden. Along the way I took lots of pictures. When we got there we saw lots of street acts and they were very funny. We did some shopping and afterwards we went to Nandos. Our dinner was very nice.
“We then got the bus home and went to bed. I really enjoyed my trip to London and made some great new friends!”

Thea writes:
“First stop was Foxlease. As soon as we landed we went to get the bus to Foxlease; the bus journey was very long. We took two buses - both of them had WIFI and plug sockets. Yay! When we got there the doors were locked. We did lots of activities, like tunnelling and team-building exercises. We got very dirty but it was fun! Our leaders gave us all a Foxlease badge.
“Next Stop was London. We got the bus to London. When we got there, we got the tube to someplace and went shopping. We got Nandos. The next day we went to the Science Museum and Tower Bridge. Then we got Milanos. 
“Then we went to Buckingham Palace. It was soooooo good - we got to go in the grounds because the Queen was a Girl Guide, but we weren't allowed to take pictures or videos. Then we went to the best burger place in the world - the Shake Shack.
Then we went to the airport and our flight got cancelled. So Bob got four people a flight – one Leader and three Guides. The rest of us went to a different airport and caught an Aer Lingus plane and we all came home safely. We got home at midnight and went straight to bed!”

Friday, 23 March 2018

Cork Guides among first to earn engineering badge!

The Venue
Cuskinny Court in Cobh, Co. Cork is an old house. Outside there are large gardens and a big area for outdoor activities such as grass sledding and an obstacle course in the forest. Some of us had camped there before but this was our first time staying indoors. There is an extension with 20 dorms. Each dorm room had two, three or four beds or bunkbeds, a radiator, a cupboard and a sink. There were toilets at the end of each corridor. We prepared meals in the kitchen, and ate with our patrols in the dining room and the common room. The common room was large enough to set up extra dining tables and to do all our indoor activities and hold an indoor campfire for more than 50 people. Overall, we thought it was a great venue and we would recommend Cuskinny Court to other Guides.

Friday night
We arrived at Cuskinny Court at 7pm. When we came in the door there was a sheet on the downstairs noticeboard assigning us to our dormitories. We went straight to our dorms with our roommates, chose our beds and unpacked our belongings. We had 47 Guides from Ballincollig, Kinsale and Bandon so it was nice to meet and chat with our neighbouring Guides.

Then we were called to the common room where we were assigned our Patrols and our Patrol Leaders. Our eight Patrols were named after endangered animals so we had the Enthusiastic Elephants, Outstanding Orangutans, Glorious Gorillas, Brilliant Blue Whales, Loyal Lemurs, Super Snow Leopards, Thoughtful Tigers and Powerful Pandas. In our Patrols we made name tags and got to know each other. The Leaders told us we were doing a newspaper fashion show. The theme for the fashion show was ‘The Beast From The East’. Each Patrol got scissors, sellotape, a stapler and old newspapers. We were then told to pick a model and a narrator. Then we proceeded to make beautiful outfits and other accessories. We had 20 minutes to complete this task. Once everyone was ready, each patrol’s model walked up and down the ‘red carpet runway’ while the narrator explained the ideas and inspiration behind the design. We thoroughly enjoyed this activity.

Saturday morning
Dressed in full rain gear and boots, we were ready for our outdoor session with the Cuskinny activity staff. We were split up into two groups at the start. Some people did the assault course and some did grass sledding. In the assault course, we did mud crawling, running through water, getting over obstacles, climbing up muddy hills and crawling through water-filled tyres. It was wet, muddy, slippery and great fun.

For the grass sledging, we had to walk to the hill where we were given a safety helmet and a sled. The sleds had caterpillar tracks and brakes. We were put into pairs. One person got on the sled and the other gave them a push start. After a few rounds where everyone had a go, we moved further up the hill. Then we did relay races. On the count of three, each team sent their first racer down the hill as fast as they could. Once that team member reached the bottom of the hill, they raced back up the track dragging their sled as fast as they could to pass it to the next team member. Afterwards, we all got together to play Temple of Doom, a chasing game with giant inflated balls. Everyone enjoyed the activities and had lots of fun. We took off our muddy rain gear, cleaned up and got ready for lunch.

Engineering Badge

The first task was to discuss engineering in everyday life. Then Patrols were given two minutes to examine a picture and list as many items as possible that were designed and created by engineers. The two winning Patrols listed 37 items from traffic lights and buildings to wheelchairs and aeroplanes. Another task involved a game to match up descriptions of engineers with different types of engineering, for example electronic engineering was matched up with a picture of a person working with cameras and phones. We raced against the other Patrols to match up the six engineers with their job descriptions. Another interesting task was to consider what problems we would face in 50 years’ time and come up with a solution. Some Patrols came up with solutions to reduce pollution while others concentrated on recycling. Other problems we tackled included online schooling, teleportation jewellery and cloning and genetic modification of extinct animals (to fight rogue robots)! We had lots of fun doing this section of the badge because it made us think about future problems.

Another interesting task was to take part in an oil spill clean-up experiment, so we could study the environmental damage oil spills cause and how difficult it is for engineers to find ways to clean spills up. To begin, we watched a demonstration by our Leaders who explained how engineers used different methods to contain and clean oil spills. Once we knew what we would be doing, we worked in our Patrols. The Leaders had prepared all the equipment for us and our job was to decide how we would use it. Each Patrol had a basin of water, a feather (to represent a bird), a pom-pom ball (to represent a sea creature), a teaspoon of cooking oil, a drop of food colouring (to represent a chemical spill) and an ice-pop stick oil tanker. On each stick our Leader had written the name of an actual oil tanker involved in a spill, with the year and the amount of oil spilled into the ocean. To clean up the oil, we chose from a selection of straws, sponges, cotton wool, cloth and cardboard all cut into small pieces. To make our oil spill, we put the boat, bird and sea creature into the water. Then we added the oil and the ‘chemical’. We noticed that the oil was sitting on top of the water and the colouring spread across the surface. We had to find a way to clean up the pollutants before they reached the beaches (the sides of the basin). We found it almost impossible to remove all the oil from the water with absorbers and skimmers. In the end we added soap (washing up liquid) which formed an emulsion with the oil and water and helped us to clean up the oil.

The final big task we had was to create a mechanical hand out of recycled materials. Each Patrol had to come up with a story for the person who needed the hand. Then we had to brainstorm, draw and construct the hand. Each Patrol checked out the recycling materials – string, wool, straws, toilet roll cores, milk cartons, yogurt cartons, rubber gloves, and old newspapers. We made a list and the Patrol Leader collected what we needed. We didn’t get any instructions – just some photographs for inspiration. Our Patrol eventually finished with a hand made of a toilet roll core, straws and string. Our hand could move its fingers. We had to rush to finish our designs. Later before campfire, each Patrol presented their mechanical hand to the rest of the group, along with their design plan. It was interesting to hear the stories and compare the hands.

Night Ramble
Before campfire we decided to go for a night walk.  We all put on loads of layers and wrapped up warm, then got into pairs and we followed the path all the way to the entrance of Cuskinny.  It was so dark that when we turned off our torches we could barely see each other! Then to see if any of the Guides knew everyone's name, we lined everyone up by a wall, picked a Guide to stand in front and then shone the flashlight on everyone's face and they would call their name out. Everyone really enjoyed the night walk but we were also happy to get into our warm PJs and campfire blankets for indoor campfire!

All the Patrol Leaders met in one room and chose the different songs to use for the campfire.  We chose Campfire’s Burning, Tango, The Princess Pat, On my Honour, Say When, Just a Boy and a Girl, and a couple more. We planned which songs to start and finish with and gave each Unit a specific song to sing. Kinsale chose Little Red Wagon, Ballincollig chose The Bear Song, and Bandon chose Georgie. Every Patrol also had to make up a new Guide song to the tune of an old nursery rhyme. Then we got all the Guides and Leaders into a circle and we began our campfire.  The Patrol Leaders led everyone in song and we had a lovely campfire!

The food
On Friday night we had a supper of sausages and rolls, with hot juice and home-baking. The chocolate brownies were our favourite. For Saturday breakfast we had cereal, fruit salad, juice and eggy bread with Nutella or jam. For lunch we had vegetable soup and made our own sandwiches. Home-baked treats included lemon drizzle cake, flapjacks and cupcakes. Saturday night dinner was chicken curry and rice, followed by Swiss roll and custard. And, of course, more home-baking if we had any room. After campfire we had hot chocolate and, yes, more home-baking. Sunday morning was cereal, fruit salad and Nutella or jam sandwiches. Bringing the home-baking was fun, nice to share, gave us plenty of treats and reduced the shopping bill. We will do that again on our next trip.

Sunday morning
On Sunday morning us Guides and Leaders awoke, rested after an enjoyable campfire and yummy hot chocolate the night before. Encouraged by the morning sun and chirping birds, everyone fell into the Sunday morning routine of setting the tables and preparing breakfast which, as usual, were extra-large servings as the Leaders used up the food! After saying grace, singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to one of our Guides and finishing breakfast, each Patrol began their duties. These consisted of washing up, clearing the common room, sweeping out the bedrooms and, of course, the Health Patrol had the unfortunate job of cleaning the bathrooms!

Once the duties were done and the packed bags stacked up, it was time to start thinking about Guides’ Own. Patrol Leaders and some Senior Guides were assigned the job of organising the ceremony. We chose the themes of Friendship and Nature. Each Patrol Leader chose either a song, a poem or a reading and then practised with their Patrol. As we had blue skies, we took the opportunity to have a mini photoshoot outside in the beautiful gardens of Cuskinny Court. Following our close-ups and group shots, Patrol Leaders got us all into position for our wonderful, reflective Guides’ Own, outside in the warm springtime sun. Afterwards our CO presented us with the new Guide Engineering Badge, we were very proud to be among the first Guides to earn this badge. After singing Taps, it was time for hugs and goodbyes to our new friends and old, with everyone already looking forward to our next Guiding adventure.

~ Anna, Anne, Aoife, Caoimhe B, Caoimhe L, Eabha, Ellen, Erica, Eve, Grace, Rachel F, Rachel P, Siomha, and Zoe N (from St Barbara’s Ballincollig, St Peter’s Bandon, and Kinsale Guide Units)

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