Another ShineGIRL Graduation

This week we have asked one of our ShineGIRL Volunteer Facilitators, Antonia, to share about her experience of being a part of our most recent group:

Ever wondered why some girls walk with their face to the ground and are highly critical of themselves. I have many times walked past a girl in the city of  Norwich and wondered why her gaze looks so distant and why when I compliment her appearance, she shrugs and replies, “no I’m not pretty” or “no my hair looks awful”. I have wanted so many times to be able to tell those girls that they have WORTH, STRENGTH and PURPOSE!

So I was overwhelmed when I was asked to be involved with ShineGirl a self-esteem
course for teenage girls at a local high school. What an amazing privilege and honour to be part of those girl’s lives for an hour each week for 9 weeks. There were a total of 12 girls on the course ranging from 12 to 14 years old. This is a very impressionable and vulnerable age for any girl, as hormones kick in and peer pressure increases. Over the 9 weeks of the ShineGirl course, we saw changes in every one of the 12 girls. As we got to know the girls, they started to share more and more with us, and it was a real eye opener to the
need in many of these girls lives. Many were from broken homes and had experienced
many things that would explain why these girls had such low self esteem. After every ShineGirl session had finished we would chat with the teacher present thought-out the sessions. She would tell us what the girls were like in school. It was heartbreaking to hear what some of girls were going through. Many probably struggled to believe they have
WORTH, STRENGTH and PURPOSE.

Over the weeks with the use of many stickers, ribbons, flowers, coloured paper, One
Direction songs, far too much glitter and loads of fun we delivered the messages about their value and worth, that they were unique and one of a kind, they had strength, their potential was limitless and they had a purpose. As the weeks past we started to see the changes, it was like watching a light spark in their eyes. They were starting to understand what life could look like and they were starting to SHINE. The girls started to look forward to every week of ShineGirl and we were told there was quite a buzz in the corridors about “how great Shine is” and “you should come along.” Many weeks we would arrive to see a new girl sitting quietly around the table, who had wanted to join the fun at Shine.

The last week of the ShineGirl Course was the graduation celebration. I took a moment to look round at those beautiful, unique and wonderful girls, each one so different and full of so much potential. Each girl had changed, even if ever so slightly for some. Then one of the girls shared something she had written about her ShineGirl experience. To summarise she wrote: “Before I started Shine I had no confidence and didn’t believe in myself. Now I have more confidence and get on better with my friends. I know that when I have a challenge in life that I can face it and I have potential.” I was blown away by her words! If it was just that one girl out of the group of 12 that understood the message we wanted to bring them it was more than worth it!

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