Helo o Galiff!
Oooh, i’ve always wanted to speak Welsh!
Last week, I was super, super proud to spend a wonderful day in Cardiff, supporting, running, walking and cheering on the tremendous team from All Saints Primary School CW. After arriving in rain like I have never seen, the clouds parted and the sun (almost) shone as the team, their coaches, teachers, parents and the Head Teacher made the journey to the National Athletics Centre in Cardiff. This multi-million pound facility opened 18 months ago and where Gethin Smart, the Sport Neighbourhood Coordinator, runs community engagement. We were gifted the track for the afternoon for the Mini Mermaids to run, walk, hop, skip and cartwheel their way around.
There were nerves a plenty, however I was so impressed with all of the girls embracing their Mini Mermaid voices as they circled the track 12 times. As the girls finished, they’d go back back around the track to help their other team mates, taking everything that they have learnt about teamwork, inner strength, resilience and moving at their happy pace.
How did this all come about? Earlier this year, Coach Sophie got in contact with us after her friend was a coach in Leeds. Once we had reached out and found a school for her, with the support from the schools year 6 teacher (Georgia) she was off and flying! Sophie and the team from Cardiff show that all you need is a passion for improving the health and well-being of girls, teamwork and determination and you to can deliver your own Mini Mermaid programme!
We are SUPER proud of them all!
Ni allwn aros am yr un nesaf!
In the past week, Youth Sport Trust, Sport England and the Islington PESSPA have released powerful reports that explore the intersection of children’s emotional, mental and physical well-being. Common themes among the reports:
We chose to introduce Mini Mermaid and Young Tritons Running Club UK in 2015 based on the belief that a 360 approach to the whole child would have lasting impact; our curriculum includes group discussion, journal work, games and workouts that engage the head, heart and body.
Mini Mermaids works with girls on their self-esteem, sense of self worth and instills a love of movement. As seen in recent reports, 96% of girls do not take part in any physical activity by the age of 14. Among 7-11 years old, girls cite a lack of confidence as a key factor. According to Youth Sport Trust, lack of physical activity among girls leads to poor mental health and low aspirations. Amongst our Mini Mermaids, we see an increase in confidence, resilience and adoption of movement that translates into all aspects of their everyday lives.
Young Tritons inspires every boy to become emotionally and physically balanced through self-compassion, empathy, cooperation, and a broadened definition of strength. In the UK, according to Young Minds, suicide is the most common cause of death among boys age 5-19. Our Young Tritons learn the value of conversations and truly listening to each other, while experiencing a different type of teamwork, built on support rather than competition.
We welcome the ongoing research and dialogue by these reports and other organisations. We know, and this growing body of research emphasises, the benefits of physical activity on mental, physical and emotional health. However, it is not necessarily linear. It is all interconnected, requiring a collective focus on all the levers - earlier and more in depth. It must happen before girls drop out of physical activity and their sense of self worth is lost and before boys find themselves in a place where they can’t express their emotions or have the emotional resilience to combat their sense of failure.
This is why we are proud to play a grassroots role in positively impacting children aged 7-11 and then to offer further support to teenagers. The anecdotal evidence that we collect from children, parents and school teachers shows the positive impact of our programmes. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to future research and initiatives by the Youth Sport Trust, Sport England and Islington PESSPA.
We’re well into our autumn programmes and I’ve had such a time getting to know so many of our tribes. Whether at schools and community centres, at 5km challenges or out and about at events and volunteer fairs, I feel like I walk away a bit smarter and more conscious of how our young people navigate their worlds.
One story really got to me. A Mini Mermaid came up to me to tell me about a Siren moment that she had had. While at the top of a waterslide, she was so frightened that she didn’t go down it. Meanwhile, her younger cousin did.
I asked when she heard her Siren voice. 'When I was scared at the top,' she said. I wanted to explore this a bit more to understand what she meant. It’s ok to be scared; I needed to make sure she knew that. To be scared isn’t 'Siren'. It’s a natural instinct that’s valid and real.
After a bit more chatting, she told me how she felt after she didn’t go down the waterslide. She felt ‘annoyed and cross with myself and babyish because my younger cousin went down.’
Ok, that’s Siren.
We spent some time working through it. Her Mini Mermaid voice was actually the one at the top of the slide telling her that she wasn’t ready to go down and that it was ok, and probably pretty smart, to make that decision.
We all experience fears and worries. Sometimes though, I think we let being scared turn into shame for being afraid. In reality, being scared and worried is ok; it can take courage and strength to stand up and say ‘I’m not doing that because I am not comfortable with it and I am scared.'
It's the conversations like this that make me determined to bring our programme to more areas in the UK. And as always, we couldn't do it without the support of our volunteers, supporters and the schools and communities with which we work. To all of you, thank you, for helping us create opportunities to have conversations like the one above and help a young girl, and many girls and boys like her, distinguish among a ton of emotions and understand their true voices. #highfins #ittakesatribe
It's critical to me that everyone who donates to Mini Mermaid and Young Tritons UK, whether through time, funds or resources, understands how we're structured, how we work and how we allocate funds and grants.
When I first started Mini Mermaid and Young Tritons UK, I made the conscious decision to establish it as not-for-profit, Community Interest Company.
So what does this mean? Like a charity, we are regulated by UK fundraising bodies. The main difference between us and a charity is that our directors can also function as employees. Currently, we have two part-time employees; any other people resources come from the tireless efforts of our volunteers.
To ensure transparency and accountability, we follow rules set out by the UK Government ‘Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies.’ As part of that, each year, we submit a report to Companies House.
Just as important as sharing our structure, I wanted to give you an idea of how we use the funds and grants we receive. Organisations from which we’ve received funding include The Jane Tomlinson Appeal, The VINCI UK Foundation, The Arsenal Foundation, Tesco’s Groundworks, Leeds Community Foundation, and Awards for All. In addition we have generous club and individual sponsors. As a result, 90 percent of our programmes are free or heavily subsidised.
Running a programme costs approximately £50 per child. The costs for the programmes fall into three main categories:
In addition to the professionally-developed curriculums, our programmes provide children with materials to record and celebrate their experience, come together as a team, and allow them to continually reflect on the experience and their achievements. Each child receives a high quality t-shirt; a full colour 28 page journal designed to capture their imagination and reflect on each week’s lesson; and a 5K challenge bib and a fabulous medal and certificate upon completion of the programmes.
Also, we provide our tremendous volunteer coaches with the materials they will need to run the programme, from pens, pencils and marker pens, to first aid kits and whistles. This school year so far, we have posted almost 40 packages!
VOLUNTEER TRAINING: Volunteer coaches are a vital part of our success. To best prepare them to deliver Mini Mermaid and Young Tritons UK programmes, we provide safeguarding courses, as well as suitable and comprehensive training. As our coaches enter into schools and community centres, they become part of the overall ecosystem responsible for the health and well-being of all the children with whom we’re lucky to work. Therefore, as well as providing our own in house safeguarding training, we also offer sponsorship of their attendance at Level 1 Safeguarding Children Training Courses.
In addition to safeguarding courses, our coaches receive in-person new coaching sessions, training videos and individual curriculum and programme guide books. As part of the training, we provide clear information on out of pockets expenses for which coaches can be reimbursed. For example, we reimburse our volunteers for the balanced snacks they give our Mermaids and Tritons to give them physical, emotional and mental fuel. This is especially critical when we work in areas of need.
INSURANCE: As with any organisation, we ensure we carry the proper insurance to protect all participants in our Mini Mermaid and Young Tritons UK programmes. Also, as a Community Interest Company, and because we work with children and vulnerable individuals we are responsible for conducting all enhanced DBS, reference checks and interviews for our volunteers.
I hope this gives you a sense of just how grateful we are for all donations and how mindful we are as an organisation to be as efficient and responsible as possible. I'm always open for any questions that you have, you can contact me directly at email@example.com
One Day. Two Relays. No Breaks. On 29 September 2018, the Mini Mermaid and Young Tritons Running Club UK invite everyone to join them for the 2nd Annual ‘Dawn ‘Til Dusk” Challenge, held in Leeds and London. The challenge will raise funds to bring Mini Mermaid and Young Triton Running Club programmes to more schools and community centres across the country in areas of need.
Mini Mermaid and Young Tritons Running Club UK work with girls and boys, between 7-11, to change their internal dialogues and strengthen their belief in their worth, value and ability to connect and impact their communities, whilst experiencing the correlation between movement and positive mental, physical and emotional health.
The four-year programmes, which run in six and eight week blocks, combine two key elements:
First started in Leeds in 2015 by UK director Hannah Corne, Mini Mermaid and Young Tritons programmes now run in more than 100 schools and community centres in the UK. The programmes tackle key issues facing young people across the UK today, including low self-esteem, fear of failure and lack of physical activity. Through work with education, sports and psychology experts, the programmes explore the intersection of those issues and empowers children to manage them through strong mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
The challenge, open to anyone and everyone, has a suggested donation of £10. Team captains will lead 30 or 60 minutes blocks. Everyone else can join in for a little or as much time as they like. To sign up, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re interested in acting as a team captain of a time slot, please let us know and include a time you would prefer.
Participants can donate on the Dawn 'Til Dusk GoFundMe page. 100 percent of all net proceeds go to delivering Mini Mermaid and Young Triton programmes in the UK. So lace up your trainers, grab your family and friends and come join the fun at one of two locations.
A note about families and how they've showed up for our Mini Mermaids and Young Tritons.
The older sister who came to the challenge and, inspired by her younger sister, asked if she could join in.
The gaggle of brothers and sisters lining the course, encouraging their sister on every lap.
The grandmother enthusiastically waving her grand daughter's sign.
The little sister proudly sporting the Mini Mermaid shirt her older sister outgrew.
The mum calming the overwhelmed, teary Mini Mermaid.
Last week, one of our coaches shared this from her Park View Tribe Cross Flatts parkrun:
I ran, walked and skipped with a Mini who had missed a couple of sessions but was determined to get her medal and certificate. Her big sister joined us for the last half-lap. Unfortunately, the ever-so-excited Mini did not have trainers on, but some totally impractical patent flats, and her left foot developed a vicious blister about 500m from the end.
We stopped for no more than a second to check the damage. Then suddenly, her sister hoisted her up and gave her a piggy back to about 10m from the finish line.
"I might be tired," she said. "But nowhere near how she feels."
I offered to carry our Mini Mermaid, but no.
"She's my little sister, I can carry her."
Our courageous Mini then insisted on crossing the line on her own very sore feet, but with a massive, proud smile.
To all the mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers and sisters who supported our Mini Mermaids and Young Tritons this year, you are wonderful! Thank you for everything you do. #highfins #ittakesatribe #seeyounextyear
We were delighted when online lifestyle magazine Hive and Honey got in touch to interview our UK Executive Director Hannah Corne. Read about it here:
Written by Hayley Spore:
I was lucky enough to talk to Hannah Corne, UK Executive Director of the Mini Mermaid Running Club, about the link between physical activity and mental health.
Hannah noticed the pressure that young children were under from social media, friends and family. She wanted to help children with their mental health and confidence, and encourage them to stand up for themselves. So she brought the Mini Mermaid Running Club, already running in schools in the USA, here to the UK.
What is important about the Mini Mermaid Running Club is that young girls aren't just running to get a bikini body. So many young children, especially girls, might not be confident enough to use their bodies and get active. This is why Hannah has worked hard with the 'mindfulness curriculum' to build children's confidence and encourage them to get active.
The Mindfulness Curriculum
What is truly unique about the Mini Mermaid Running Club is their mindfulness curriculum, which is taught to the children through physical activities.
During the programme the children are introduced to two voices. Mini Mermaid personifies our positive, affirming internal voice - the voice that says "go for it!", whereas Siren is our internal voice who holds back in life and is scared of failing - the voice that says "I don't look right", or "I can't do that".
The mindfulness curriculum teaches children to identify the two voices. Children are taught to find and grow their Mini Mermaid voice, and by learning to identify their Siren voice children are better equipped to recognise and quieten their apprehensive and unconfident voice.
Children can partake in the programme for four years, from primary school years three to six. During that time, they are taught four stages of the mindfulness curriculum:
Curriculum 1: Finding Your Own Voice - Self discovery.
Curriculum 2: Loving Yourself No Matter What - Self worth.
Curriculum 3: Writing Your Own Story - Your words are powerful.
Curriculum 4: Choosing Your Tribe - Building your community.
Each curriculum has a set of themes that the children work on.
Head - What we see and hear through social media, TV, media, friends and families and how to distinguish what is the truth and what are lies.
Heart - How we feel about ourselves and how to be kinder to ourselves.
Hands - How helping others can shape the person we want to be.
Belly - We need fuel to do the things that we want to do. It is important that we fuel it the best way that we can.
Legs - What are our strengths and what are our weaknesses and we celebrate the differences between every one.
Feet - Goal setting and steps that we need to take to achieve these goals.
In short, the Mini Mermaid mindfulness curriculum builds children's confidence, teaches them important mindfulness skills and empowers them to stand up for themselves.
Throughout the programme the children are training to complete a 5km challenge. Using the skills they've learnt through the curriculum, such as self-belief, self-compassion and confidence, children will take part in a 5km run, skip, hop, walk - they can take it at their own pace, and use any method of movement to complete the course.
The important part of this challenge is not physical fitness - it's not a race, nor a test. Instead, it manifests the two big lessons that the children learn:
1. Mindfulness is so important - recognising, and perhaps controlling, our
internal voices can be very beneficial to us in the real world, from 5km running challenges, to our school, work and personal lives.
2. The finish line is just the beginning.
Hannah, having a professional background as an Art Director, told me how building the Mini Mermaid Running Club in the UK was a very organic thing - it has been a "wonderful challenge" for her.
When I asked Hannah whether she had a personal mantra to inspire her work, she told me that for herself and her team at the Club, the finish line is just the beginning™. This is both her personal mantra and the trademark slogan of the Mini Mermaid Running Club.
Hannah firmly believes that the finish line of the 5km challenge is not the end of the programme's teachings. Instead, the finish line opens the door to other challenges, such as the move to Secondary School. The skills that the children learn in the Mini Mermaid programme will empower them through many challenges to come.
"My finish line", Hannah laughed, "is to make sure every girl in the country has access to a Mini Mermaid Running Club programme!".
We wish her all the best with her goals.
It's Volunteer Week 2018! Our fourth feature on our fintastic volunteers takes us to London to meet Abi, a musical Mama Mermaid!
1. How did you find out about Mini Mermaids?
I run regularly at Highbury Fields parkrun and volunteer at the junior parkrun there. One of the Mini Mermaids team, Khara, is also part of the junior parkrun team and asked if I would act as a Mama Mermaid for girls completing their 5k challenge at Highbury Fields.
2. What are some of your more memorable moments acting as a Mama Mermaid?
There aren't specific moments as such, but it's been lovely to see the support for the Mini Mermaids during their 5k challenges - from the coaches and parents but also from the volunteers and other runners at parkrun. Hearing cheers of 'well done Mermaids!' as you go round the course and seeing the girls' faces light up every time as they realise those cheers are for them because they are doing something amazing is a really special experience.
3. You're an avid volunteer with a number of organisations, including junior parkrun? Why do you think it’s important to volunteer?
I wasn't active as a child and had quite a negative relationship with sport. Having got into running as an adult I'm really keen to be involved with initiatives such as parkrun and Mini Mermaids that get people (and particularly children) active in a fun and supportive way.
4. What do you love about being active?
It depends a lot on how I'm feeling on the day! Sometimes I like the feeling of challenging myself, seeing improvement and getting stronger; other times I just enjoy being outside and taking time out from the busy day to day routine.
5. When you're not volunteering, we'll find you...
Either running myself, or doing something musical - I work for a performing arts venue and do lots of singing in my spare time, so you'll usually find me either outside in running shoes or inside in a concert of some kind!
It's Volunteer Week 2018! In our third feature, meet one of our fabulous London coaches, Michayla.
1. How did you become involved in Mini Mermaids?
I was interested in volunteering and was searching opportunists and groups online. I came across Mini Mermaids and sent in an application form. And that was that!
2. What surprised you the most about the programme?
The fact that the girls pick things up so quickly & really do understand what we’re trying to teach them
3. If you could take one lesson from Mini Mermaids back to your 10 year old self, what would it be?
I wasn’t a very loud or outspoken child so I often fell quiet around groups of kids. I’d let my 10 year old self know that it’s okay not to be loud or outspoken, but to have the confidence to be myself. Just because you’re quiet doesn’t mean you’re ignored.
4. Can you share a Mini Mermaid Moment?
One of the girls in the group has always been slightly quieter. Our last session it was like she was a completely different person! She came in bounding, giggling and full of energy. It was great to see her interacting so much more.
5. When I'm not coaching, you can find me...
At the gym or playing netball. On the off chance it’s not actually raining in the UK, you might find me out for a run.
It's Volunteer Week 2018! Our second feature on our fintastic volunteers takes us to Leeds to meet Coach Caroline.
1. How did you find out about Mini Mermaids?
Hannah came for a visit to my running club one cold April night and asked if any women would be interested in getting involved in a project, which used running to improve the self-esteem and resilience of young girls. I'd recently got involved in the Mental Health Ambassadors #runandtalk programme with Run England and had been missing working with kids. Some sort of instinct took over and before I knew it my hand was in the air. Hannah ran and chatted with me and I knew immediately this was something I wanted to do.
2. What are some of your more memorable moments acting as a Mama Mermaid?
On the second session of the first tribe I coached, we played the Screaming Fears game, where the girls had to get up and run if they agreed with the statement. When I turned it over to the girls, one of them decided to shout "I love Mini Mermaids!" Everyone, including the teachers who were supporting us, got up and ran!
I remember being blown away after my first final parkrun challenge when I was going to the cafe and bumped into 2 of my Minis. They spontaneously stopped and did the Flow for me as a thank-you, and I was incredibly touched by the gesture.
I am overcome with pride every time I see the faster members of one of my tribes go back for the walkers at a parkrun final challenge.
And then there's the quiet girl who took weeks to open up who suddenly slipped a hand into mine on the final challenge and told me she wants to be a Mini Mermaid teacher when she grows up so she can help people and have fun.
3. Why do you think it’s important to volunteer?
Volunteering helps connect you to other people and feel like you have some use and worth. I suffer from depression and anxiety, and it makes all the difference to get out and be part of something bigger. With Mini Mermaids we're helping kids to address difficult feelings and find positive ways to work with them, and that's an essential, life changing skill.
4. If you could take one lesson from Mini Mermaids back to your 10 year old self, what would it be?
Just get outside, get active and have fun. Don't worry what anyone else thinks. You really are enough.
5. When you're not volunteering, we'll find you....
At a steady and well behaved office job waiting for parkrun day, on my bike, listening to David Bowie, talking about mental health issues, out in the woods, and when I'm not injured, usually training for a fairly long run.