Tying in with the celebrations for the International Day of the Girl Child, the Water Adventure Centre in Manchester ran a one day event of water-based workshops and art activities, inviting girls from local youth groups across the area.
The aim of the day was promoting awareness of self, others and the environment and opening up a space for girls aged 12-19 years to talk about girls’ rights, engaging them through activities designed to foster trust and team building.
The Water Adventure Centre regularly run events for young people and a ‘Young Women’s Evening’ once per week. Find out more here.
The Water Adventure Centre (WAC) uses the water as a way to engage with Young People and to help them develop positive relationships with themselves and others.
Finding balance on the water means experiencing your own body in relation to other’s bodies and the environment with real time feedback from every movement you make.
As we kneel or make an attempt to stand or sit in the water on a vessel, a range of unfamiliar forces have to be navigated. Some are activated automatically by our bodies’ capacities to work out how to balance.
Balancing is not a voluntary or cognitive process. While we are consciously able to think ‘I need to balance’, managing balance is part of the body’s automatic work. Balance is under the control of the somatic nervous system.
The sensations that we feel through our bodies do not work in the same way as talk and language. Our bodies work in ways that are involuntary (unconscious or automatic) as well as in voluntary (conscious ways). Physical activities such as being on a boat or on a Stand Up Paddle board on the water activate forms of communication through the capacities of our bodies to feel.
The canal centre youth workers see rapid transformations in group functioning following just one outing onto the water on a giant Stand Up Paddle board. Girls may not have known each other before hand and may have little in common. Factions are quickly overcome once on the Stand up paddle board in the canal. The need to survive in an unfamiliar milieu forges bonds. Those bonds last once back on solid ground where the groups become so much more than a series of individuals. The experience lingers and becomes a resource that can be called on in the future. This can help young people to work together collectively, a physical activity can mediate the process of creating bonds.
Following on from the canal session, over drinks and biscuits a range of arts-based activities were offered with the aim of talking about issues faced by many young girls and women.
One activity, in particular, offered quick but striking results Using crystal paint and water, shapes and patterns were created first on paper, before being blotted with Sanitary pads.
Period poverty has made the headlines as both a national and international issue faced by many girls and women with one youth worker noting that “Around 40% of our girls miss school when they’re on their period”.
www.ukyouth.org is a good place to start to find youth work projects in your area.
Research carried out by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan found that around 80,000 women and girls are affected by period poverty and 17% of girls in London miss school when they’re on their period. Read the press release about it here.
Teenage campaigner Amika George started the campaign #freeperiods and an online government petition to tackle period poverty. Watch her TedX talk “Period Poverty : Breaking The Silence” here.