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Month: August 2008

A Lot To Lose

In a number of past posts we have discussed the binge drinking epidemic in our youth:

Let’s get smashed – a South Australian perspective

Getting Trashed is so hot right now 

I discovered the following series of short films on site www.2much2lose.com. I believe they will be great catalyst for conversation.

The films are all part of a teen directive started by the Century Council, a Washington based non-profit organisation aimed at curbing youth drinking. This particular campaign aimed at encouraging girls to see that underage drinking is not worth the adverse consequences it can cause.

The Council’s “Reel Girls, Real Life” contest encouraged girls nationwide to submit concepts for television Public Service Announcements to dissuade peers from drinking. The winner, Kylee Darcy’s films feature two teen girls, “Kristen” and “Sarah,” who are shocked to discover that a video of “Sarah” drinking at a party surfaced on a social networking web site – “What You Don’t Know”. The girls explain that they felt “Alone,” were “Benched” and got “Busted.”


The following questions may be useful starting points ( thanks to my program Director for Queensland, Storm Greenhill Brown, for her help with these):

1. Australian studies have shown that as many as one in five teenage girls say they have done something they regret when drunk. Have you ever observed others acting in a way they wouldn’t normally act as they were drunk? How did this make you feel?
2. This series focuses on some of the possible social ramifications of binge drinking. What physical dangers are there in excessive drinking? How are you more vulnerable and exposed?
3. What steps could you take to minimise risks like this for yourself and your friends?
4. When you see a group of friends behaving in a way that makes you anxious what would you do? How could you take control of the situation?
5. The teenager in the clip says that she didn’t realise that she was so “out of control” – is that boundary easy to cross?
6. What, in your opinion, would be the top three reasons that teenage girls binge drink and why?
7. Do you think that this campaign on the negative effects of binge drinking is successful in getting its message across? How could it be better?

Guiding the way…

This week I want to share extracts from “Teenage Mental health: girls shout out!”, the third research report recently released by GirlGuiding UK:

Teenage mental health: Girls shout out! is an investigation into girls’ experiences of both hard-to manage and challenging feelings and recognised mental health problems. The report considers a new generation of potential triggers for mental health problems in girls – premature sexualisation, commercialisation and alcohol misuse – and also some of the more longstanding issues like bullying and family breakdown. It examines the impact of such factors on girls’ feelings and behaviour at home and in their communities, and asks young women themselves what might be done to help.”

Some of the statistics are frightening and yet they are consistent with the many other studies that have also examined the impact our toxic culture is having on young women:

• Half the girls questioned know someone who has suffered from depression (51 per cent).
• Two-fifths know someone who has self-harmed (42 per cent).
• A third have a friend who has suffered from an eating disorder (32 per cent).
• Almost two in five have a friend who has experienced panic attacks (38 per cent).
• A quarter know someone who has taken illegal drugs (27 per cent).
• Two-fifths have experience of someone drinking too much alcohol (40 per cent).

It would be easy to feel overwhelmed wouldn’t it? But girls don’t need our dismay – they need us to get active.    

What types of things can be done to support girls’ emotional well being? The report also offers some practical suggestions:

1. Give girls things to do: from adventure playgrounds to kung fu or street dancing.
2. Create safe places where girls can have freedom without parents worrying.
3. Boost confidence by giving girls opportunities to succeed outside school.
4. Encourage girls to try something new.
5. Make girls feel normal and accepted – whatever problems they might have.
6. Don’t overwhelm them with advice – give them space.
7. Help them understand that they can’t always help the way they feel.
8. Initiate a young mayor scheme – giving girls a say in important decisions.
9. Make information about where to turn for help easily available.
10. Use the Girlguiding UK website to offer advice and support.

I would add to this the following ideas:

1. Empathise – don’t dismiss her fears and anxities, nor think of her as a mere “drama queen.” Being a teen girl is challenging at times, and I believe this generation of girls have it even harder than we did. A great exercise that may help you reconnect with what it feels like to be a teenager was offered in one of my previous posts: Letter To My Teen Self. Do take the time to read the letters other Butterfly Effect readers contributed – they are so insightful. Add a letter of your own!
2. Help girls develop a language to describe how they are feeling; develop their emotional literacy.
3. Encourage girls to seek out a “Fairy Godmother” – a mentor who can help her navigate these tumultueous years. Enlighten’s Program Director for Victoria, Sonia Lyne, discussed this with great honesty and warmth in her previous guest post True Colours.
4. Get informed. Read books from
My Library, read some of the articles on my Article of Interest page, watch some of the films in my Video Pod, visit some of the other web sites I recommend.
5. Encourage girls to critique the media messages that surround them. This blog has offered a variety of great practical activities that get girls active eg: my post on Talking Back to the Media. 

The entire GirlGuiding report is so well worth reading that I am providing the PDF here for you and a “virtual treat” for you to have whilst taking 5 minutes to really think about how you can respond intelligently and compassionately to the pressing needs of the girls you care for…

Guiding UK Report on Teenage Mental Health

 

Teaching Resources ready to go – part 2!

I stumbled upon another great American site in my cyber – world travels this week that I think is worth sharing:

www.loveyourbody.nowfoundation.org

This organisation runs a number of really interesting initiatives. One is the “Love Your Body” campaign which is launched each year with a poster competition:

The grand prize winning poster will be used as part of a national campaign to challenge the media’s use of violent, drug-addicted, starved, surgically-enhanced images of women and to fight against industries that profit from women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies.”

 Some of the past winners have produced fabulous works of art; LOVE this year’s winner, What’s the measure of a woman?

I have saved a number of past winners (including one submitted by an Australian!) to my picture gallery but do check these out for yourself at their site. Better yet – you can forward those you like to girls and women you want to inspire as they are available to send as free E-cards!

Another fabulous resource the foundation offers is a downloadable PowerPoint presentation on the portrayal of women in advertising. This comes complete with separate facilitator notes. I have saved the presentation for you here as a PDF so you can take a quick look through; if you think it may be useful simply download the PPoint yourself from their site.

sexstereotypesbeauty

My Program Director for Victoria, Sonia Lyne, discovered the following PDF listing resources for students, teachers and parents that will support work on eating disorders and body image at the Tasmanian Eating Disorder Web Site : Resource list

And I also quite like the “Completely Gorgeous”site. There are some useful things here as well – including teaching notes. Found the GORGEOUS film had some really bright moments: http://www.completelygorgeous.com/vid.html.

I know Dove support The Body Think program in schools but I am so furious with Unilever’s hypocrisy that I just can’t go there. Unilever own Dove – great messages for women there. But they also own Lynx ( vile misogyny!), Slim Fast ( vile hypocrisy!), and run shameful ad’s promoting skin whitening in other countries. Check this one out for their Pond’s brand in India. SHAME!!!

Love to hear about any resources you have used to inform and enlighten!

 

Enlighten is our heart’s work

We were delighted to be asked to participate in the “Business Sense” series. This televison series will be aired on Channel 9, 730am Sundays (commencing August 10th), on Foxtel’s Sky Business, and on QANTAS in-flight entertainment.

The series profiles successful small businesses and looks at what they are doing that is working. After each small business is profiled, later in the show a business expert offers their words of wisdom too.  Insights are provided by business leaders including John McGrath, CEO McGrath Real Estate; John Symonds, CEO Aussie Home Loans; Karen Matthews, CEO Ella Bache; Katherine Sampson, Founder & MD Healthy Habits. Well worth watching!

Enjoy this extract from Episode 14 and gain an insight into why my partner Francesca and I founded Enlighten. We believe that by building Respect and inspiring Love, our business will change the world for girls.

P.S Exciting news! Just this minute discovered Enlighten has been announced as a Finalist in the 2008 Australian Small Business Champion Awards, Educational Services category! How affirming.

You may recall last year we won the National Award for Children’s Services. This year there was a new category for us to enter and we are thrilled to once again have our work acknowledged externally.


Fingers (and toes!) crossed for another win!

 

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