~ all ages Wednesdays ~

The past couple of weeks, we've been trying something new ~ an all ages Wednesday meeting for Global Girls. For some time, it's been my intention to see if we (meaning my family and I as well as Global Girls as a group) can swing adding another day to our mix. Since January 2015, we've only done Fridays for all of our regular meetings and this has served us super well. It makes things very clear for families and, being at the tail end of the week, makes for a nice send off into the weekend.

So why mess with something that seems to be working? Well, isn't that the nature of humans? To tinker, to see if we can mix things up...grow them. While I don't plan on growing us too large at this point, I do so love to see my smaller GG whom once their session is done in the fall, I don't have the fun of working with again until the following year (unless they are able to drop by for some of our special occasion meetings or summer camps). Little voices saying, "Kelly, when can we do Global Girls again?" is really the darn cutest. Such a sucker for a heart melt is what I am. Getting as many girls as possible together in community is also a huge plus too, of course. And those middle and older girls? Well, any time I can connect and work with them is a huge treat as well.

These new meetings incorporate games, longer term crafting projects and work on a movement piece and showcase for families at the end of the year. We've matched up some younger girls with older ones for connection as well as ease of work. It can be hard for little ones to wait until an adult's hands are free to have help with little tasks. The younger girls always love having a special buddy of their own as well, especially at the end of a long school day. We are lucky to have some wonderful older girls who really seem to love partnering up and mentoring a younger girl. The perfect match!

This week, we had a smaller group (due to spring vacation) so tweaked the games, dabbled in the movement piece a bit then moved into some serious basket making and weaving. These girls, I tell you...the crafting blows. my. mind. I love the choices they make in design. So brave and creative with their colors too.

Next week we will be adding wind chimes and mobiles to the mix - the perfect time of year for that kind of beauty!

~ world water day ~

A little late ~ is often better than never, right?

Scheduling is tricky so we bumped an exploration of March 22nd's World Water day to today - and what fun!

Eighteen kids from 4-14 joined together for some simple crafting, flubber making (hint - don't let liquid starch freeze and thaw, this caused ours not to work), insight into where our local water comes from, how finite it is, how we can preserve it and some very popular handmade water filters - they completely loved everything about the filter project from making them, to watching them work. Such fantastic fun. The great thing too was that this was an activity that all ages could become engaged in while taking away something a little different from each other but entirely developmentally appropriate. Filters for the win!

~ flexibility ~

Staying flexible, mentally checking in with the girls and just watching to see what works and what doesn't is a huge part of what we do at Global Girls. I've been encouraged to create some curricula for others to start their own groups far and wide if interested. While I totally love that idea...I do worry.

Following any curriculum stoically doesn't serve anyone...there needs to be breathing room to ditch what isn't working and create something that feels more engaging for the participants. Going through the motions and checking the boxes is so adverse to a vibrant program.

Our girls this session have had a tricky time with the beloved and much looked forward to movement piece. Absences, illnesses, the need to play a little more on some days, and a desire to really dive in and create on other days has meant we may need to do some tweaking come showtime. And you know? That's totally okay.

At the time, the immediate needs they had were being met and if it meant back-burnering one aspect of this session, I'm okay with that. Now, are they okay with that? Some will be more so than others and as part of their group process, we will work through the pieces we need to puzzle together for them to see the big picture of it all and come to agreement and compromise. All such good stuff in the end, really.

Either way, I'll have something as a back up plan ready for them to dive into if it seems the original plan just isn't jiving. Something they can create together that will provide that sense of accomplishment and closure that I think is so vital at the end of these sessions. Then again? Maybe that movement piece will come together at just the right moment.

Isn't that the way often?

~ getting closer ~

These girls have two more Fridays until they excitedly showcase their skill and creativity with some beautiful pieces they've mindfully crafted - they are so ready, I tell you. On the short list so far, silk scarves, beaded bookmarks, collage word art and Sculpey miniatures. All proceeds go toward community requested initiatives to provide food, water and education in their areas. We like to make sure the organizations we work with are supporting these desires and not part of unwanted change in the communities they serve. The world of humanitarian support is sometimes a tricky one and we try to be part of a solution rather than the problem. More on that another day though.

For now? These girls - oh my, are they hard workers. And ready to spread some love far and wide in the world? Most definitely.

~ digging in ~

Our 4th, 5th and 6th graders began really digging in to this session. I find a corner seems to turn about this time when the girls find a sense of purpose and really want to get down to work. They actually asked that we begin practice on their movement piece (an inspired movement similar to creative movement) which they totally love to perform for family and friends.

We then moved into our health topic for this session, water and sanitation. Introducing the subject of water access can be such a 'mind blown' moment for many kids since, don't we all just turn on the tap and there it is? Finding out that girls their age walk miles daily, forgoing school and other activities to procure water is such a huge thing to grasp. As always, though we don't dwell, we don't over-informationalize (did I  just make that word up?), we skip stats and the burden of "too much" but work more towards creating a heart connection with the subject. We do this through story and a discussion then move into crafting for change (creating beautiful and fun items for their fundraiser) which leaves them feeling proactive and not the other extreme, apathetic, which can happen when any of us are given information we don't know what to do with...

Currently, they're deciding whether they want funds to go toward a well or toilets - it was so interesting to hear their points advocating for both!

~ a birthday hike ~

For birthdays, we have our people pick an activity they would like to do. Such a special treat in a big family, I can tell you. Often, they choose something they don't often have a chance to enjoy. Our littlest one was thinking bowling but then, when a hike up this nearby mountain was offered, she was all about the hike. Throw in a geocache they love to check in on and she was one happy little hiker.

~ food security ~

Some days these girls really blow it out of the water. To be so young and, with just some gently prompting, to be able to "get" a complex issue like food security?

Mind. Blown.

So what creates food security? According to these girls, access to employment, good soils, seeds, subsistence hunting, gardening, local farms, food banks, friends, family and school lunch programs. Sounds about right, yes? We then took this understanding and ventured out with a wider scope..attempting to apply this to other communities far away. The threads of understanding become a little taut and tenuous at this point since they have a very fuzzy idea of the infinite ways in which other communities might work yet, amazingly, they still have a good grasp on the basic premise.

Pretty profound, I think, for 9-11 year olds...

~ the upside of small ~

School vacations can often pose tricky planning for our programming. From the beginning, we've powered through, continuing to meet over breaks. This often results in lower numbers but, the upside is a more connected meeting with the girls. The more relaxed nature of a smaller group (well, sometimes!) lends itself to more conversations, insights and a better understanding of the girls, their processes and how I can work to fine tune the program to meet the needs of that particular group.

And the fun? Well, there's still plenty of that.

We worked with our games list to accommodate the smaller numbers (we had 5 girls in attendance). "Wink" was a popular one with them and they played rounds and rounds...and rounds of that one. Throw in a balloon relay where they invented a multitude of variations capped off by some art and I think it was called a good day by all.

Next up - week 5 where we will already be half way through...time flies!

~ refugee workshop ~

This past Tuesday, 11 girls opened their hearts and tuned into the plight of refugees for a couple of hours. In keeping with the tone of this subject, we kept this fairly low key (although the girls benefited from two initiatives that helped them understand the differences between migrants and refugees as defined by international law). They found empathy and connection through story and crafted messages of welcome and support with cards and posters that will be delivered to the New Mainers project next week along with generous donations given the day of the workshop.

Touching upon the fact that refugees bring many gifts with them that add to our delicious cultural mix, the girls had a chance to sample treats from the Middle East...

Given this was held during February vacation, we had more interest than ability to attend so we'll be offering this workshop again soon. So very glad the girls have their hearts into this.

~ rights of the child ~

Our 4/5/6 session is all about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child this time around, as well as team building and art (of course!). We like to do full on team building the first meeting (even though, in our small town, these girls mostly know each other) as the work we do asks of them a certain degree of comfort and openness with each other.

During our second meeting, we scaled back a bit on the team building games and added some collaborative art into the mix that we'll be building upon throughout the session...

Our third meeting found us delving into the convention itself through story (this one is so good for any child to have on hand) and some guided imagery as well as that well loved art component...

Week four of nine coming right up!

~ forest bound ~

This winter has found us exploring our own backyard - literally. So much to discover out there from woodpecker holes, critter caves, eagles in the sky, snow made slides, rabbit tracks, fairy houses...the list could go on and on.

I've been reading tons of  David Sobel and am loving the place based approach to learning. Some of this was already in place for us and some I'll be looking to add to our Heartwood programs. The philosophy of creating a love and appreciation for a subject before addressing it as an issue just clicks with me so deeply.