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

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.