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.

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.