Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Yo!Fest at European Parliament

On Thursday 31 May I had the chance to go on an adventure to Strasbourg with a group of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around Europe. As a member of the External Relations working group for WAGGGS Europe Region, there are so many great opportunities to meet new people and attend exciting events. Over the past few months, we had been making preparations to attend a European Youth Event called Yo!Fest. Yo!Fest is a dynamic youth-led festival which brings decision-makers and 8,000 young Europeans together to share stories and create solutions. The event was held in Strasbourg at the European Parliament.

I left Dublin Airport full of anticipation for the days ahead. My first
flight was to Amsterdam and from Amsterdam I would be flying to Strasbourg. However, thanks to bad weather in Strasbourg, my flight was cancelled and I had to stay overnight in Amsterdam until I could take a train first thing the next morning.

After a six-hour train journey, I arrived in Strasbourg slightly later than expected and headed straight for the European Parliament and to meet up with the other girls from the External Relations group. There were 13 of us in total, from lots of different countries around Europe including Sweden, Norway, Germany, Austria, Italy, UK and France.

There were huge tents, an outdoor stage and food trucks set up
right outside the parliament. There were even eco-friendly toilets, which used sawdust instead of flushing. In each of the tents, there was a different theme and the activities taking place were based around these five themes. The themes were ‘Keeping up with the Digital Revolution’, ‘Protecting Our Planet’, ‘Working for a Stronger Europe’, ‘Staying Alive in Turbulent Times’ and ‘Calling for a Fair Share’.

On Saturday the whole team attended different events and activities on different topics. In the afternoon,
myself and Olivia from Sweden ran a workshop called ‘Empowering Young Women: Use of Technology in Advocacy’ for around 40 participants. We talked about U-Report, which is a social messaging platform built by UNICEF which young people can use to participate in polls on key issues that are important to them. The statistics from these polls can then be used in different ways to try and create change. A few weeks before Yo!Fest, we ran a poll to find out if U-
Reporters thought it was difficult for young women to get their first jobs and to find out what barriers young women may face when entering the workforce. Over 15,000 people answered our poll and we shared these results in our workshop at Yo!Fest.

I had the chance to go inside the European Parliament to attend the closing ceremony. It took place in the Hemicycle, which is the big round room where Members of the European Parliament sit during important debates and discussions. The Vice President of the Parliament, Ramon Luis Valcarcel, gave the closing speech. He spoke about the importance of young people being engaged in Europe and having their say in what they want for the future of the European Union.

On Sunday morning before we left Strasbourg, we took the opportunity to have a group meeting to plan for the upcoming events for our team and to review our goals for the coming year. One of the aims of the External Relations working group is to ensure that WAGGGS is visible throughout Europe. We certainly achieved that this weekend in our bright yellow t-shirts!

Friday, 25 May 2018

Adventures at Muckross!

Twenty Guides from St Peter's Bandon, together with 11 Siamsa and Allin Brownies and nine Leaders, headed to Muckross Venture Centre for the weekend. Caoimhe, a member of St Peter’s Guides, wrote the following super report as part of her Guide Holiday badge:  

I was excited as I was packing my bag but then the excitement seemed to ebb away as I was waiting for the day to come. Finally! It's time to go! I have a quick bite to eat and head off. I sit
next to Ailbhe on the bus. For a time both of us read our books, then we talked about what we were going to do when we got there. Ailbhe was wondering where everything was so I promised to give her a tour.
We're here! We all unload our bags off the bus and rush upstairs to see what bed we get - oldest on the top bed, luckily that's me! Sarah's below me.

We all go downstairs and kind of hover around the place - I give Ailbhe the tour, it's not quite big but cosy.  We're all called to supper - eggy
bread with nutella in-between ... So yum! Oh my word, if you don't like it, it just means you haven't tasted it!

Then the Leaders sent us up to our bunks to get settled and put out our sleeping bags. Then Caroline came up to tell us to get ready for the campfire: that means getting changed into pyjamas and brushing teeth and getting our camp fleeces. When we got down to the campfire we sang songs, had hot chocolate and then went to bed. Well, the Leaders said to go to bed but most people stayed up,
passed around sweets, then we slept.

Saturday - We walked to Muckross Abbey and then up Torc Waterfall. 246 steps! We were quite tired when we got back, but we had a talent show to prepare for. The group that won sang the Macarena - 'Ladybirds, Brownies Guides, Leaders x 3, Hey, where's Robert?' (Robert was 3). We tried to tempt the Leaders to do something but only Caroline went up: she said a
poem about a greenfly, yet when we came down to the campfire later, the Leaders jumped onto the chairs and started singing and dancing Mamma Mia. Then there was more hot chocolate. Ailbhe was nearly asleep on my shoulder so we all went up to bed and slept.

Sunday – No, I don't want to go home! Not today! But unfortunately we have to go home but first we go on a short walk. We come back to packing, tidying and playing!  Although we do have to go home, I had a great time.

~ Caoimhe (age 11), St Peter’s Guides, Bandon

Monday, 21 May 2018

Darkness Into Light

In the early hours of Saturday 12 May we, St Barbara's Guides, woke up before dawn.  At 3.45am the rendezvous point was the car park where we received our Darkness into Light T-shirts and high-vis vests. 

The 5km walk began shortly after 4.15am and we completed it in less than an hour and a half.  

At the end of the walk we all felt like our feet were falling off and we all wanted some breakfast but, all in all, it was a great walk for a great cause.

~ Eabha, Anne and Niamh, St Barbara's Guides, Ballincollig

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Feeling proud of ourselves ~ National Brownie Quiz winners!

Ella, Layla-Grace, Emily, Síofra, Ava and myself - Laoise - from St. Attracta’s Senior National School in Meadowbrook were on Churchtown Brownies Table Quiz Team and we are the IGG All-Ireland Brownie Table Quiz Champions!

The first quiz was against local Units and took place in Whitechurch National School,
Rathfarnham, which we were surprised to win. Then we went on to the Regional Round,
which was held in Portmarnock Guide
Den and we were so happy to make it to the final. We
all got Regional Finalist Badges and a cute knitting set.

The National Final took place in Irish Girl Guides National Office, Pembroke Park, on Saturday
28 April. We met everybody on the team there. There were seven teams, including ourselves,
representing all the Regions. There were Brownies who travelled from all over Ireland. A
Leader who helped organise the quiz
took pictures of all the teams outside National Office as
everyone arrived.

There were seven rounds and in between each one, they wrote the scores up and told us
the answers for the previous round. When the last round was done the Leaders joined us for
lunch and everybody had yummy Four Star Pizza and a slice of an amazing chocolate
biscuit cake, which was decorated with a Brownie and edible Interest Badges.

After ages of waiting and a sing-a-long, we were finally brought upstairs for the prize-giving.
They announced who came second and third and, when we weren’t second, I knew we won,
and WE HAD WON! The teams that came second and third got medals and we got a huge
trophy and a Brownie Lottie doll each and a framed picture of our team that was taken

We all had a great day and went home feeling very proud of ourselves.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Three Guide association event at Castle Saunderson!

The three Guide association event at Castle Saunderson was a brilliant weekend that just rushed by!

We arrived in the freezing cold but the next two days were dry and sunny.  After off-loading all our stuff and setting up camp, we headed off with Jessica to the big hall to meet the girls from the other two associations (Catholic Guides of Ireland and Girl Guiding Ulster) that were joining us. We had a great time making bracelets
and doing other activities. Thanks to Erin and Rachel who made mine look a lot better than it would have otherwise!
The next morning after breakfast we headed into the woods and tested our outdoor skills by building a fire and cooking sausages. Well needed for our morning activities - climbing wall and crate-building. I have done a climbing wall before and it was great fun but crate-stacking was scary and awesome and frightening and exciting! I did chicken out when I was standing on the 13th crate!

After lunch we all took part in the mud run. The Leaders sat this one out. It was amazing and, after spending an hour running, jumping, crawling, climbing and swimming, we began our raft-
building down at the lake. With a lot of luck and some capability our raft didn’t sink and I didn’t fall in. Finally, we headed to the showers to get clean and WARM!

Big thank you to Marie for cooking us dinner. Best needed burger EVER! We all had a great evening around the campfire after such a brilliant day.

On our last morning of camp all three associations gathered together to take part in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and WAGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) activities. These were great fun, especially the tomato challenge.  We all earned lots of badges (I think we should have also earned a ‘we survived the weekend with no phone’ badge)! And, before we knew it, the time had flown past and it was time to down tents and pack everything away.

I would like to give a big THANK YOU to our Leaders for organising and camping with us in Castle Saunderson, especially Sinead, Jessica and Marie.

~ Sola, Millmount Girl Guides

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.”