Monday, 27 February 2017

IGG members wear their Guide uniforms to school!

IGG members in Ballygarrett, Co Wexford, were among the thousands of girls throughout Ireland who turned up for class recently in their Girl Guide uniform!

The girls, who are all members of Seashell Ladybirds, Brownies, Guides or Senior Branch, had been granted permission by the school principal to wear their IGG uniforms as part of our annual A-wear-ness Day.

The girls made the most of the opportunity to tell their friends about their involvement in Guiding – the games, activities and challenges they enjoy as well as taking part in community projects, making new friends and having lots of fun.

A-wear-ness Day takes place close to World Thinking Day (22 February) each year - when IGG members join over 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts across the globe in celebrating the international friendships provided by the Guiding movement. This year’s World Thinking Day theme is ‘Growth’ and it is hoped that, by thousands of girls raising the profile of Guiding by wearing their IGG uniforms to school, the movement will grow as other girls will want to join too.

Shannon Harkin of Seashell Guides, Barrygarrett, enjoyed wearing her Guide uniform to school. “Some of my friends thought it was nice and they were asking about the badges and what they were for. It was nice to be able to tell them what we do in Guides,” she said. “I like that we get to choose what we want to do and learn lots of new skills and I like that you get to meet different groups of Guides.”

Eva Casey of Seashell Guides said she especially enjoyed camping and day trips. “You become more independent and you get a lot of confidence as you do new things. You always
come out of Guide meetings in a happy mood.”

Keeva Lawlor of Seashell Brownies said that wearing her IGG uniform to school gave her the opportunity to tell her classmates about Brownies. “I told them we get to go on trips and stay at interesting places,” she said. “We get to do new crafts and meet new friends.”

Amber Valentine of Seashell Brownies said: “I like that you know everybody and everybody is nice to you and you get to try new things you haven’t done before.”

Monday, 6 February 2017

Whitechurch Guides' mural brightens up Indian orphanage

A colourful mural of the Creation story is brightening up an Indian orphanage, thanks to Whitechurch Guides, South Dublin.

The initiative came about as a result of their Leader, Ruth Hughes, taking part in a project in 2013 with the 35th Dublin Venture Scouts to help design and build a playground and paint two murals at the Flame of Hope orphanage in Siliguri, Northern India.

Here Guide Leaders Ruth, Doreen and
Barbara explain how their Guides became involved …

Three years ago, on the last day visiting Flame of Hope in Siliguri, Northern India, Sr Ann Francesca asked if the next mural for the children might be of the Creation story. Since then Whitechurch Guides have been designing it from time to time, on a large roll of disposable tablecloth.

Ruth was lucky enough to
have another visit to Flame of Hope recently and brought the design over. The children there were very excited as the time coincided with their half-term from school.  We also had some beautiful ideas for shapes and colours from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago.

First there was a day trip up to Kurseong, the other home of Flame of Hope, in the foothills of the Himalayas, not too far from

Darjeeling, and a breath-taking sunset during a candlelit Mass for the blessing of the local graves.

Next day it was all hands on deck, sketching along an 80 foot wall of the school and finally starting to paint.  Many of the 20 children who live in Flame of Hope have severe physical, intellectual or sensory disabilities.  Yet their care and patience with each other shines through all their difficulties.  You couldn't find a better name than Flame of Hope.    

We managed to incorporate all the Whitechurch ideas and plenty more inspired by India - the all-night, each night Divali festivities and, of course, the children themselves. While we painted with small groups of the children we could hear the others rehearse their nativity play and songs.

In the beginning ... there was only darkness, then God said "let there be light". Next we painted water, a volcano, coral, some shamrock
around the drain pipe, ferns under the sunrise.  

A beach with shells, a crab , a beetle, some sea holly, waves.  Under water again, fish blowing bubbles, an octopus, a dolphin. Then a spider  in a web.

Snow on the mountains, clouds, a rainbow, sheep, a waterfall, tea, marigolds, sunflowers, lavender, lotus, little garden birds, a blackbird’s nest, a flamingo, a frog, a palm tree, a monkey, a lion cub and a cheetah, a snail, a turnip, a tortoise, an iguana, some wheat, a chicken, some carrots, a goat, potatoes, a butterfly, a cauliflower, a dragonfly, celery, a currant bush, another butterfly.

A cockerel, ducks in a pond, bulrushes, a pig. another iguana, a holly tree, a cat, an owl up an
autumnal oak tree, a red squirrel with an acorn, a rat with some sweetcorn, a bear, some iris, an elephant. a baby elephant, a giraffe (did you know they're now at risk of extinction?) a dove, a moon (just a crescent, not a super-moon).

A camel, a leopard, a rhino, a cherry tree, a peacock, a rabbit, ladybirds, a caterpillar, some stars, primroses, a banana tree, Adam ... and Eve, a sunset, a grapevine, daisies, crocuses, snowdrops, another butterfly, another dove, God asleep on day 7 (on his blanket is depicted the world in His hand).

Poinsettia, another leopard, an orange tree, another dove, the apple tree, the serpent around the drainpipe ... but that's another day's painting.

So, seven days, 80ft of wall, nine litres of paint and 10 paintbrushes later we were, indeed, well pleased. We hope the children, and all their friends in the surrounding community who come to school there too, will enjoy the fruits of their work for many years to come. It's under a large canopy, so will be protected from the monsoons and the beating sun.

On the opposite wall we painted a
creation Mandala from the Philippines - a cyclical depiction of creation and recreation, starting with the light at the base and all interconnected with a spider's web.

There's a fine space next to it with two large brown double doors, that's calling out for … Noah's Ark. Maybe 2018. Has anyone a few more metres of tablecloth?

~ Ruth, Doreen and Barbara – Whitechurch Guides

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Supermodel Katherine gives Free Being Me the thumbs up!

We’re thrilled that Miss International Ireland, Katherine Gannon, has given her backing to our Free Being Me body confidence programme.  

Katherine believes that health and happiness should always come first. Speaking to Griffeen Valley Brownies and Guides in Lucan, Co Dublin, last night, the 25-year-old Galway model said: “If you don’t have health and you don’t have happiness, you don’t have anything.”

Katherine, who is an accounts manager by day, is on a mission to tell girls and women that “there is nothing wrong with you just the way you are”.

This message ties in perfectly with the WAGGGS/Dove Free Being Me programme that the Council of Irish Guiding Associations (made up of Irish Girl Guides and the Catholic Guides of Ireland) has been promoting for the past three years.

Until she did a reality TV show, Fashion Hero, last autumn, Katherine did not go anywhere without wearing make-up. Since the show, however, which saw her “stripped” of make-up at one point, she has happily gone without make-up for much of the time. She no longer wears any to work. She initially found it traumatic to have
to remove her make-up and fake tan, but in the end found it “freeing” when she was told she looked just as beautiful without.

When Katherine came across Free Being Me and how it portrays “such a great image of women and gives girls something to look up to”, she got in touch with IGG to say she would like to support us in promoting body confidence.

Katherine, who got her first taste of modelling at the age of 13 and whose titles have included World Supermodel Ireland and Miss Galaxy
Ireland, is these days more interested in pageantry and promoting causes she believes in than modelling just for the sake of it. She no longer accepts every modelling job that comes along and only enters competitions that particularly interest her. She says the modelling industry is “tough” and, for her, health and happiness come first.

“My message to girls and young women is to never go down a road that is unhealthy,” she said. “If you’re not healthy and happy doing something, then there’s no point in doing it.”

Looking back, she said: “Modelling is a very adult world for a 13-year-old girl. It was very glamorous at the time but it’s not something that a 13-year-old should be doing. Education is more important because modelling is very short-lived.”

Apart from two week’s work when she was 17, Katherine did not model again until she was 18 and had completed her Leaving Certificate exams.

Katherine said she liked the fact that Free Being Me was “a healthy message, a positive message that promotes positive thinking”.

She enjoyed hearing what Griffeen Valley Guides and Brownies thought of Free Being Me and all that they had learned from doing the programme. When they told her that one of the things they had learned was how to take compliments, she said we should definitely compliment each other more.

Emily-Ruth (age 14) said she had learned that it was OK to be herself. “You don’t have to be perfect for anyone,” she said. “You don’t need to go starving yourself or going to extreme lengths to look perfect; you don’t have to have a flat
stomach and super skinny thighs. You’re fine just being yourself: someone is going to think you are beautiful even if you don’t think so yourself.”

Ellie-Rose (13) said she believed Free Being Me was especially helpful for teenagers who use social media because “they see lots of pictures of beautiful people and they feel pressured to look like them, be like them, because everyone looks up to them.” “With Free Being Me you learn that that is not the full picture, a lot goes on and no-one is perfect …. You shouldn’t worry about
how you look; as long as what is in the inside is nice, that is what matters.”

Alana (13) said she had learned that everyone was insecure, that it was OK to be you and that you shouldn’t have to change anything about yourself. “Free Being Me gave me more confidence and I know that it helped lots of other girls in the Guide unit too,” she said.

Katherine Gannon said she was never a Guide, but wished she had been! She said she was happy now to be involved by promoting Free Being Me.

And we’re delighted, of course, to have her support and backing!

~ Fiona Murdoch, IGG Communications Officer