As an avid Girlguider I was delighted to get a place on the Peer Education training course last weekend. Peer Education is Girlguiding UK’s innovative programme that trains members of The Senior Section (14-25 year olds) to empower themselves and others to make a difference in the lives of girls throughout the UK through different “training sessions”. During the course of the weekend, we were trained to run fun, safe and challenging sessions on many different topics which are tailored to an age range of 7-25 year olds, and which have the right activities and content to make a difference in young people’s lives. We can deliver sessions on Think Resilient – mental well-being, Free Being Me – growing girls’ body confidence and self-esteem, Healthy Relationships – being good and safe friends and being able to tell whether a romantic relationship is healthy and lastly Youth Health – being aware of the effects of alcohol, smoking and drugs. The weekend was truly so much fun and the ladies training us were the most enthusiastic, funny people around – really adding to the atmosphere and learning. And the food was great which was a huge bonus.
I signed up for the Peer Education course initially to make a difference to young people who have been bullied after my own experiences, feeling a strong will to do something to help young people in a way I was never lucky enough to have in my school. This will to help children who have been bullied almost expanded my will to become a teacher far stronger to stop children having the same treatment from teachers I had. Although I feel really let down by the way the school I went to dismissed the way I was bullied I was lucky enough to have a weekly guides group with amazing leaders I am now lucky enough to call friends. Girlguiding has been there for me on two occasions in my life where I felt I had nowhere else to go and got me through, so naturally I feel heavily in debt to the charity and Peer Education seemed like the way for me to repay this at this stage in my life. However, on the course I found that Peer Educators have a far bigger job than just helping young Girl Guides understand the effects of bullying but that they help children to find coping mechanisms with this mental health and their body. In 2013 7,800 girls had been seen by a Peer Educator and there were over 500 peer educations in the UK.
Some of the techniques and activities I learned linked in heavily with many of the subjects I will be teaching in the future as a part of Health and Wellbeing. As exciting and fun as the weekend was it really hit home to me that some of the topics we were discussing would actually be happening to some of the children in my classroom. Although we see children smoking at an early age in the news and hear children say they think they looked fat in those pair of jeans in primark as we walk past them in the shopping center, we soon forget that we ever saw it and do nothing about it. But what kind of a society have we become that this is the norm? What kind of example are we setting for our children in the future if we do nothing about it? This was when it clicked that actually – teachers might have a far harder job in terms of pastoral care than I initially thought…
Now I’m trained up with these techniques I feel a lot more confident to go out into a classroom and talk to children about all sorts of these things. Activities that I learnt on my course like breathing techniques/emotions bucket to show children that even though your emotions overflow sometimes, you can always share feelings with someone/people mind map to show the people the children can go to if they are feeling down to talk are extremely versatile and can be run with children in many different settings – not just at Guides. I honestly cannot wait to start my peer education sessions though and am already taking bookings to run sessions so it looks like I’ve got a busy year ahead of me. Although I’ll be extremely busy it keeps me going to think about the good I will be doing for children across Dundee and the Highlands and just wish there was a way of expanding it to help more children in need of these techniques. But in the mean time I suppose I have to settle with the fact I’m a university student and taking Peer Education all over the world my just be a little too much for my tiny little brain to manage.
Part of a Peer Educators job is to inform the public of the amazing things we do in Girlguiding and spread the word about the sessions we teach so, after reading this if you feel inspired to find out more about the sessions we run and what we do please contact me by commenting below or go to www.girlguiding.org.uk and share this post so more people can know!!