Today, I’ll log onto a forum I’ve looked forward to for ages - Women in Sport and their discussion on primary age girls and physical activity. Even before the pandemic, I banged the drum that we need to help children, and especially girls, get and stay active and we need to start helping them at a much younger age.
Now, my drum has become a full on orchestral percussion section.
Here we are, heading towards the end of Lockdown 2 and stumbling into winter. The seriousness and longevity of the pandemic’s effect can not be understated. The losses and sacrifices that people have made over the last year are immense. Some families have lost everything and we won’t know - for months or even years - the exact extent on the mental, emotional and physical health of the nation.
We can NOT sideline the impact the pandemic had, is and will have on our children and the role that physical activity can have in their recovery. As a nation, validated by research from organisations like Women in Sport, Youth Sport Trust and Sport England, we started to fully recognise the powerful impact movement has on the health and wellbeing of our children, so much so that OFSTED and the UK Medical Officers updated guidelines to stress its value.
At the same time, studies have shown the negative impact the lack of physical activity has had on children during lockdown and how important is that we get children moving again.
So why is it that physical activity is being placed at the bottom of the list of what is important in the recovery?
Over the first two lockdowns, children's grassroots activities stopped and I can see first hand the effect that this is having on my own children. With no routine, colder days and no access to their peer support in whatever grassroots activities that they do, the motivation to do anything is waning (even with the super motivating talks that I give!). If I am seeing the effects of this in my own family with my own 9 and 7 year old, what are other families experiencing?
While I’ve understood the rationale behind these decisions, where we’ve failed is in providing the schools the support, guidance and resources needed to fulfill all the roles we as a society have asked them to take on. We’ve deemed schools a safe space for children - to learn, to socialise, to grow.
At the same time, we’ve placed this massive load on schools to fix all of the issues that have arisen from the lockdowns. Make sure every child has caught up with the 6 months of schooling that they lost, handle the daily unknown of what the pandemic will bring, support children as they adapt to the new type of school life.
By being asked to be everything to the children and the institution that is going to fix everything that the pandemic has done, why are schools not being given every opportunity and resource to fully help their children in their recovery, including through play, games and physical activity?
Despite the work done pre-pandemic, it feels that we, as a society, have taken a huge step back from understanding just how important physical activity will be in our children’s recovery. If school time and after school activities are the only time where children experience any form physical activity, shouldn’t we be doing our utmost in supporting schools to provide this, rather than placing restrictions in place to prevent it?
Schools are in the perfect position to embrace and deliver the power of movement and activity in a safe way, not only benefiting their students but their staff also. Over my past 5 years of leading Mini Mermaid Running Club UK, I’ve seen just how much physical activity contributes to a child’s confidence, resilience and sense of worth. That strong sense of self flows through all aspects of a child’s life. Rather than turning away from physical activity, now more than ever we should move full steam TOWARD it.
But we need to - and can- do this in a way that releases and reduces the pressure on schools and staff, rather than adding to it. If we, society, local authorities and the government can support schools as they continue to thrive in their new normal, they can be at the forefront to support our children to be as active as possible to not only improve their physical health, but their learning and mental health.
1) Mini Mermaids is now into its 11th year (yey!) What prompted you to develop the programme?
Two really profound experiences led to the creation of Mermaids. First, in my work as coach and personal trainer, I met women in their 30s and 40s who wanted to re-engage in some type of physical activity, but struggled internally with how society defined their worth. Before they even set foot on a running track, they were already beating themselves up - they looked fat in spandex, they weren’t good enough.
It broke my heart. So many of these brave, strong women had done remarkable things in their lives. But the stories they had been told all through their lives tied their worth and value solely to how they looked and were reflected in the eyes of men.
As I dug in deeper and listened to their heartache, I felt that this was all so much part of their “little girl” story. The images, the cultural definition of beauty and worthiness. What they heard and what they were told all throughout their lives began when they were as young as 6-7.
At the same time, Megan Tresham, our co-founder, was looking for something for her daughter that would help her withstand the external pressures that so many young girls face by believing in herself.
We both felt this was an opportunity to create something special. Something that tapped this internal dialogue, where girls define their worth and value and to teach them that they deserve respect for their humanity. Also, we both knew physical activity needed to be a part of this journey.
2. What changes have you seen over the last 11 years in the issues that young girls are facing?
I feel that the same challenges are still here. I would love to say that girls are now thinking that they can do anything and they have a true sense of themselves. We are seeing more women are in positions of power and it shows that you can get to the top because of hard work and determination, not because of gender, colour of your skin or what you look like.
On the flip side I think that we still have so many of the same complex struggles that I grew up with. I had MTV and glossy magazines and conversations with my mom and grandma who talked about how a woman’s worth and value are based on having a man. Girls are growing up these days with social media and a false sense of how life should be. I am worried how girls are going to gain a sense of internal peace and comfort. The external changes as you grow older and I am worried that girls are not going to see this from all the false images that they see now.
We’ve made progress, but we can’t let up. That’s why programmes like Mini Mermaid are so important. We teach girls that the inside matters more than the outside, and that they have the power to define their identity and value. Will that always be easy? Not at all. But they will have the strength and resilience to work it out for themselves and find their true voice.
3) What is your favourite part of the programmes?
LOVE the multi-generational relationships that happen. It’s rare that a coach does not say to me that the curriculum changed their lives as much as the girls. It is critical that I can sit with women who are 10/15 years older than me and listen to their wisdom and stories and struggles. This is what the role of the MM coach is.
Also, when I see Mini Mermaids do the power pose and own that moment, chest up, taking up space and owning their power - wow! The sense of accomplishment after they have completed their 5km, doing something that they thought that couldn’t do - I never tire of seeing the girls faces in that moment.
There was a Mini Mermaid who wouldn’t walk or run during any of the sessions but then one day, she did it and seeing the freedom that she had was incredible. It is life changing when you discover that freedom, when your heart and your head are free.
4) The unique aspect of the Mini Mermaid programmes is the fact that it transcends countries and societies. Why do you think this is?
Because what we talk about in Min Mermaids is the human experience. It is not exclusive to any society, economic group, country, tribe or language. It is the human condition
We need to acknowledge and understand our inner dialogue and how it affects our human path. We will all have moments of terror, and grief and sadness and we will also have moments of joy and elation and success and love.
When I visited Uganda I tried to understand - in my limited way - what it must feel like to be displaced from your home because your village has been completely destroyed. Your family has been murdered. You are the lone survivor. This is the story that you carry with you. No one will have lived this traumatic experience apart from you.
But you can still experience joy and happiness. This is where MM and Siren come in. They don’t tell you how to experience what you have experienced. Whatever your experience, you will have a voice (Siren) that is fearful and reminds you of your mistakes, you are not enough. Mini Mermaid tells you that you are enough whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever your experience. You are still worthy of a life that is dignified. It is not defined by a single experience.
5) What are your hopes for the future of Mini Mermaids?
For every girl and every woman to have the chance to be part of the Mini Mermaid curriculum. If I could blink my eyes and the curriculum to be everywhere and, in every school, I would. Everyone has an inner critic and champion and I want them to know that they have the power to differentiate between the two of them and then make the decision to take them on the path that they want to go in life. To cross a finish line whatever that finish line might be in life. I want Mini Mermaids to reach every corner of the world.
6) How do you keep your physical and mental health balanced?
I struggle with the term ‘balance.’ Balance suggests that we are like a three-legged stool and we have to have every single one of the legs on the floor before we can be useful. Life is more of a balancing act. You are always stable enough to get through what we have in front of us even when one leg of the stool is a bit shorter than the others. Sometimes I think that it is unfair to say that we always need to have this perfect balance of everything. We just don’t have the capacity to have our eyes on everything all the time - and that’s ok. We are Moms, partners, employers/employees. So it is putting the pieces together to balance on that one thing that needs our focus at that time.
I find that routine really helps me. My brain, body and heart need routine and consistency. It takes the form of not sleeping in, taking part in mediation or reading before my day starts. I then move my body, however it wants to move. It might be running hard, running slowly, walking or yoga. I try to move for at least 10 minutes a day.
Also, find time for play and silliness. Finding joy with my friends and not staying ridged. I make sure I block out time for play on my calendar. With COVID-19, it’s too easy to stay inside and say, “well, this is all I can do.” But it isn’t. We can get outside in the cold, go for walks, and go for hikes - for both our heads and hearts. If there was ever a time to discover the power we have within us, this could be it. Finding different ways to move our bodies. Recognising the power of a kind gesture. Understanding that everyone has her own challenges right now, including some we can’t see.
Heidi Boynton is the co-founder of Mini Mermaid and Young Triton Running Club. You can hear more from Heidi in her Ted Talk, titled “Permission”
Welcome to Mini Mermaid Tales, our new monthly series where we chat with some of the brave, strong and active women and girls we've met in our Mini Mermaid communities.
Our first conversation? Mel Berry, founder of Her Spirit. We caught up with Mel to learn a bit more Her Spirit and her new campaign, Give me Five, which starts on 26 October. During the campaign, 4x Olympian Donna Fraser, supported by the Her Spirit coaching team will take members on an 8-week journey to a fun 5km walk or run.
1) What inspired you to create Her Spirit and why is it so important?
Her Spirit, supported by Sport England and Public Health England, is helping empower women to take the crucial first steps to live a healthier lifestyle and accompanying them throughout their journey to make this a permanent, sustainable change. Available as an app, Her Spirit harnesses the power of a global community of women to inspire and support members of all ages to transform their emotional, physical and nutritional. Alongside the community, Her Spirit offers daily classes, exercise and nutrition programmes, alongside bespoke advice and support from a host of experts, covering Mind, Body and Spirit.
2) The online community of Her Spirit through the app is a relatively new concept. Why do you think it appeals so much to women and how do you think this is the way forward in promoting physical activity?
With many exercise classes still restricted, communities broken and motivation low, Covid has had a hugely negative impact on our mental health and fitness, with women disproportionately affected. At the height of the pandemic women’s physical activity dropped by 7% while men’s increased by 6%, but the power of the Her Spirit community has shone through. The rapidly growing community has enabled women to work together, to motivate each other and create stronger bodies and minds and has shown the immense possibilities to turn this depressing statistic around.
Time to exercise is essential for our physical and mental well-being and insufficient exercise is a major cause of chronic disease. Obesity is a significant risk factor for some cancers, liver and kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and has been associated with being at greater risk from the most severe effects of covid-19. Lack of exercise is as deadly as smoking. Not getting enough exercise puts women at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, mental health problems and some cancers than men.
Exercise is a basic necessity of health, it should be a fundamental right, yet when time is tight it is often one of the first things to be dropped from our lives. Women have been disproportionately carrying the burden of caring for children and the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic and have found their time for physical activity even further restricted.
3 Your Best Year Yet campaign directly relates to the impact that COVID has had on women's activity levels. Can you tell us about how this campaign is already having a positive impact and what you hope to achieve moving forward?
Jess is a great example and used to be a keen cyclist, swimmer and runner, but stopped exercising during lockdown, as she had to focus on looking after her two children in lockdown.
She found that her mental health started to suffer and she removed herself from social media as she found this to have a negative influence. The only app Jess decided to keep on her phone was Her Spirit.
“It is just packed full of supportive and kind women who are super inspiring and who genuinely want to see you succeed on your own personal journey. Through this support, I restarted exercising and this in turn obviously boosted my mental health as well - it was the start of a positive snowball effect.”
Read Jess' full story here
4) You are also collaborating with Women In Sport for #TimeTogether which is promoting mums and daughters to get active together. From their research, we can see that girls really value time with their mum's and therefore this relationship is vital when viewing physical activity. What are your thoughts on beginning to promote this relationship earlier and help mum's build the physical activity relationship with their daughters?
It's so important. Meet Tracey and Summer Brown, our Her Spiriters who spend more #TimeTogether
"For a long time, my anxiety often got in the way of spending time being active with my daughter, I’d often blame lack of time, but it was also linked to me thinking I was not good enough or capable. My daughter Summer is an amazing 16-year-old, that is fearless, talented and energetic; everything that for years I dreamed of being, but am only now starting to live out and enjoy the ensuing benefits.
Like many women across the UK, I was affected by COVID-19. I work as part of the air crew for Tui, though I was furloughed throughout the immediate months of lockdown and it ignited periods of anxiety and worry for me. In reality, it was one of the best things that could happen as for the first time in decades I put myself first and prioritised my physical and mental wellbeing.
I decided to take on the 6 week Learn to Swim Freestyle session earlier this year with her Spirit, a global community that offers women personalised coaching, plans and advice for Mind, Body and Fuel. From day one I embraced the support and inspiration of the women and it’s been the catalyst to overcoming my fears and has strengthened my relationship with my daughter."
Read more about Summer and Tracey here
5) At Mini Mermaids, we teach the girls from the very first session about their strong Mini Mermaid inner cheerleader and their Siren inner critic. How do you combat your inner critic when she is telling you not to be physically active?
Don’t you love that moment when you look up from your laptop and see that your kids have figured out how to scale the outside of the staircase using ropes and harnesses…
….wait, that doesn’t happen at your house?…
My kids love to climb, my daughter in particular. If she, alongside her brother, isn’t rigging climbing gear inside, she’s finding the best climbing trees outside.
There’s the part of me that wants to shout 'be careful, don’t go so high.' But there’s a BIGGER part of me that says 'higher...HIGHER!' whilst thinking about Beah Richards wonderful book, Keep Climbing, Girls.
She’s approaching the age where her confidence could begin to decline. Where elements of society can influence in a negative way what she feels about her image, her body, her intelligence.
I simply won’t let that happen.
According to a YPulse study conducted by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, until the age of 8, boys and girls are equally confident. But between ages 8-14, girls’ confidence drops 30% more than boys.
Without this confidence, girls stop taking healthy risks. Society rewards them for being 'perfect.' Therefore, failure is not an option. The same study found that the proportion of girls who say they are not allowed to fail rises from 18 to 45 percent from the ages of 12 to 13.
So to avoid failure, they avoid risk. Yet, the very process of trying, failing and trying again is how we grow. Confidence is cumulative. A study by EY and espnW said that of the women who held C-Suite positions, 94 percent engaged in some kind of sport when they were young, but the study noted that 'as long as there is a move outside of a girl’s comfort zone, and a process of struggle and mastery, confidence will usually be the result.' As in, they used sport and physical activity to practice, trying, failing, trying again and then mastering which grew confidence.
Like many others, we cheered when we heard the eagerly awaited news that the government would extend the PE and Sport Premium Funding in primary schools for 2020/2021. Within the language of the news, we repeatedly saw the words “wellbeing” and “mental health,” and a celebration of mental, emotional and physical benefits of activity. It helps young people with anxiety and depression. It builds resilience. It creates opportunities for self-expression, building self-confidence, social interaction and integration.
And more importantly, for girls, it creates much needed opportunities to proactively address inactivity before girls start to lose their self-confidence. This loss of confidence results in girls stopping any type of physical activity before they even leave primary school. This lack of participation in physical activity has a negative impact on girls aspirations and self-esteem later in life (Youth Sports Trust).
In Mini Mermaids, we work with girls age 7-11, using running as its simplicity makes it accessible to everyone. That said, Mini Mermaids isn’t about helping schools create ‘RUNNERS!’ Rather, we want girls to discover a safe environment where they can explore different types of movement.
Running, in all its various forms, acts as the conduit through which girls experience the joy of being active and feel the connection between movement and well-being and push themselves outside of their comfort zones. They get sweaty, they get wet and in some cases they get muddy. They get frustrated when it’s hard, and excited when it becomes easier.
Moving for 5 minutes becomes moving for 10 minutes. 10 minutes become 20. 20 becomes completing a 5km challenge. Completing a 5km becomes “I’m going to stick with that tricky science or maths problem even though it’s hard because I know I can do it.” It’s confidence. It’s resilience. It’s self-esteem.
When I see my daughter reaching for a particularly high branch in a tree, or attempt a tricky problem when she is climbing, or even when she is struggling with a maths problem my heart beats with fear. The thoughts of ‘what if she falls, what if she fails’ rattle around my brain.
But then I see the sense of pride and confidence in her whole body when she reaches the branch, or completes the climbing problem or gets the maths problem. Or, if she doesn’t get those things on that particular day, I see a flash of defeat, followed by a set look of determination as she vows to herself to give it another go.
That’s what I want her to harness throughout her life, to understand that the knocks and setbacks do not define her, they are a part of her story and what shapes her as does her determination, confidence and pride. So I will keep telling her to climb higher, keep reaching, keep trying, keep falling and to be unashamedly proud of herself.
Recently, I shared that we were working on a way that we could continue to bring our Mini Mermaid programme to girls during these unprecedented times. I’m happy to say that, in working with Nicky Adams and her team at Full of Beans Fitness, we’re now able to offer Mini Mermaids at Home, an online experience that combines our fun curriculum with a wealth of online activities from Full of Beans Fitness.
Wait….what?! A running club? Online?
Absolutely. At our core, we’ve always been about helping young girls discover and embrace physical activity as well as mindfulness practices. We want to engage those girls at risk of stopping physical activity, by creating a fun, judgement-free environment, in which girls feel safe exploring different types of movement.
As part of that, we want to help girls understand, acknowledge and manage how they’re feeling, be kind to themselves in that moment, and consider how physical activity can play a role in that process. This is so important, now more than ever. It's hard when life changes and there's a new reality to navigate. No school. No access to friends. No certainty. It's frustrating, a bit frightening, and tiring.
As a community, country and world, these feelings of anxiety and uncertainty can be overwhelming. This is why we want to be able to help girls and their families to navigate through these feelings, along with supporting our community to stay active.
So alongside the team at Full Of Beans Fitness, we are launching Mini Mermaids at Home. It’s Mini Mermaids with a twist! We are really looking forward to working with Full of Beans as we manage this new world that we are living in. You can find all the details on how to sign up here or email Corrie@fullofbeansfitness.co.uk for dates and availability.
Hope you and all of yours are staying safe.
MINI MERMAID DANCE PILOT TO LAUNCH THIS SPRING, THROUGH GRANT FROM THE HILL DICKINSON FOUNDATION and THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION FOR MERSEYSIDE
At Mini Mermaids, we’ve always said that we’re not out to create “RUNNERS!”
Ok, maybe we don’t yell it.
But we’re not out to create “runners.”
What we have always wanted is for girls, particularly those who might shy away from any type of physical activity, to discover the joy of moving their bodies, feel confident doing it and experience how it impacts their overall well-being.
We started with running and its various forms; the simplicity makes it accessible to everyone. But we’ve always envisioned branching out and creating new programmes that incorporate different types of physical activity.
Today, our vision became one massive step closer to reality, thanks to a generous grant from the Hill Dickinson Foundation, on behalf of the firm’s Leeds office, and the Community Foundation for Merseyside .
At the core of the Mini Mermaid ethos is physical activity combined with mindfulness practices to help strengthen a girl’s self-esteem, self-confidence and self-compassion. With this grant, we plan to take these powerful tenets and to pilot the Mini Mermaid Dance Programme, a natural progression of our running-based curriculum. We will start the programmes in Leeds later this year.
Much like running, dance has proven to positively impact physical, mental and emotional confidence. In fact, an Arts & Health research paper titled, ‘The effects of recreational dance interventions on the health and well-being of children and young people’ found that among 5-12 year olds, dance not only improved cardiovascular fitness and bone health of children and young people but also that dance has the power to improve how a child views themselves and reduces anxiety. The mind/body connection is evident in many cultures who use dance as therapy to strengthen this connection.
We’ll have more details later this year as we develop and activate the programme. But we wanted to publicly thank the wonderful team at Hill Dickinson Leeds and the Community Foundation for Merseyside for making this programme a reality.
High Fins to the entire team.
4 December 2019 - Mini Mermaid Running Club, set to launch in Hull in Spring 2020, will offer 15 funded programmes, made possible through a generous grant from the Jane Tomlison Appeal.
Both new Ofsted and UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity guidelines correlate physical activity with improved learning, greater resilience and confidence. At the same time, research from Youth Sports Trust and Active Lives Children show that girls, particularly those from disadvantaged areas, start opting-out of physical activity as young as 9, which in turn can negatively impact future goals and aspirations. Mini Mermaid Running Club provide a grassroots antidote to this challenge, creating a safe, fun environment in which girls can experience the emotional, mental and physical benefits of physical activity.
“The support from Jane Tomlinson Appeal enable us to deliver our very timely and very relevant programmes to help primary-aged girls preserve their self-worth and value,” said Hannah Corne, executive director of MIni Mermaid Running Club UK. “By combining mindfulness with physical activity, our proven curriculum strengthens a girl’s self-confidence, self-esteem and self-compassion before it starts to decline, starting at age 8.”
Mini Mermaid Running Club provides schools with ready-to-activate programmes, including a full resource kit and a curriculum co-designed with experts in education, sport, fitness and children's development, as well as parents and past participants. The Mini Mermaid extra-curricular programmes include themed discussions, journal work, games and structured workouts and culminates with a 5km challenge. Throughout the programme, Mini Mermaids work to discover and understand what underlying things make a girl say “I can’t” and change the discussion to ‘I can.’ This develops a power within each girl that shows her just how strong she can be.
Vicki Robinson, Manager of the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, said: “The launch of Mini Mermaids in Hull brings this empowering experience to school age girls in this community and we’re thrilled to provide the funding, thanks to our fantastic fundraisers.
“The Jane Tomlinson Appeal is committed to supporting young children and their physical, emotional and mental well-being; Mini Mermaids delivers this and more to the communities in which they work and we are proud to work alongside them.”
Interested in activating one of these funded programmes in your schools? We'd love to hear from you.
By Lisa Le Blond, PE Curriculum Support Leader
The programme has been amazing in so many ways. Seeing the camaraderie, team spirit and passion amongst the girls has been heart-warming. Many of the girls who took part in the programme were not taking part in any extra-curricular activity and were missing out on opportunities to improve their health and fitness. Being part of the Mini Mermaids programme enabled them to become physically confident in a way that has supported their physical and emotional well being.
The 5K Challenge has enabled all the girls to experience accomplishment and success, the run was physically demanding and all the girls excelled.
The programme and the 5K run was character building :The girls are now more confident in the way they move, the way see themselves and their willingness to take part in physical activity.
The girls have become ambassadors for health and fitness and have been encouraging family members to be more physically active. They are not only confident and competent but they are intending to continue with their fitness journey due to the inspiration they found during the Mini Mermaid programme.
We cannot thank you enough for providing us the opportunity to take part in this life altering programme!
Cork, Ireland was the setting for our first ever Irish Mini Mermaid programme. Our team had such a great day with the squad from Gaelscoil an Teaghlaigh Naofa. A local newspaper came to interview the girls and across the board, when each was asked what Mini Mermaids represented, she said 'confidence.'
We wanted to share a bit more about the single force, Sarah Fahy, who made it all happen!
Q. How did you find out about Mini Mermaid Running Club?
A. My cousin lives in London and on her way through a local park, she saw a squad of Mini Mermaids. At the time, I was taking a course on mental health and looking for an initiative that would combine that course with empowerment for young girls. So I started doing some research and really liked the idea that Mini Mermaids is preventative - working with girls at their peak of confidence and working to preserve that. I got in touch with Hannah and we started talking about ways to launch in Cork. Gaelscoil an Teaghlaigh Naofa has such a strong reputation for embracing initiatives that support their students overall well-being so it was a natural fit to start here.
Q. You spent time speaking with school children and their parents about good digital citizenship. How did that experience fit in with Mini Mermaids?
A. Through my company, I volunteer to speak with school children and their parents about the internet, understanding both the good and the bad of it and how they can better understand what they encounter. So many children, especially girls, measure themselves by external factors like how many likes a post gets or the number of followers they might have. Much like with the presentations I give in schools, through Mini Mermaids, I want girls to have the power within them to see or read something and trust their sense of self-worth and value to determine how much weight they’ll give to something.
Q. You’re a new Mum and used your maternity leave to launch Mini Mermaids. Did you have moments of 'what have I done?'
A. Oh yes. In fact, the week before we launched, I sat at home coming up with a million reasons why I shouldn’t do it. My son was sick; what would the girls think of me. But I decided to use that vulnerability and be really honest with the girls on our first day. Sharing my vulnerabilities helped create a safe place for them to talk through theirs.
Q. Can you share any challenges that the girls experienced and how they used Mini Mermaid to work though them?
There's too many to mention! During the week that we were discussing our different types of heart, mind & body strengths, one girl explained that she felt she was good at swimming but would never say it openly due to her fear of being labelled a 'boaster' by her classmates. The following week she came to me and said that she thought about it more, tried to listen to her true voice and learned that it did not matter what anyone else thought of her. Another Mini said she sometimes fails the class test on Friday but knows that she can start afresh next week. She listened to Mini Mermaid and knew that she was trying her best every time. Another one that springs to mind is during our practice challenge. One of the girls wanted to run the ten laps but wasn't sure she could do it - there was a lot of Siren stuff going. So she asked Mini Mermaid to help her do one lap and when that was done, asked the same thing. She continued this, one at a time, until all ten laps were completed.
Q. What has surprised you the most and what did you want the girls to take away from the programme?
A. I was honestly really surprised with how much they absorbed during the eight weeks. My goal was to give it 100% but I always wondered whether I gave them enough, got the message across, did the workouts correctly, etc (Siren was loud sometimes!) It really does become evident during the 5km challenge. As I spoke to each girl as we were running/walking, it was incredible to see how much they had learned about themselves and the world around them.
If I was to choose three things for them to take away it would be:
I shared a favourite quote of mine with them on the first day which I hope they remember; 'The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea'
BOOM! The 3rd Annual Dawn ‘Til Dusk Challenge is in the books! What a day. London kicked off at 7:07 am and just shortly after, Leeds started the rounds at 7:14 am. It was a day of laughter, good natured competition, sore feet, high fins and some really good pizza.
We had a steady stream of Mini Mermaids and their families, coaches, and Mama Mermaids all take a few laps around the course. We celebrated parkrun’s 15th birthday with teams from both Highbury and Roundhay parkrun and the 1st wedding anniversary of our own Khara and Steve Mills-Haunch. We had dueling legal teams from London and Leeds (who would’ve thought lawyers would get competitive) and we cheered the people using our relay for training for their 10, 13.1 and 26.2 miles challenges on the horizon. We had so many great conversations with people in our communities who stopped by to ask more about what we do and why.
Your generousity - of time, of money, of energy - means we SMASHED our goals for the day, both in terms of participation and fundraising goals. More importantly, every relay team member, virtual runner and donor has made it possible for us to bring Mini Mermaids to schools with limited resources and hopefully make a difference in how a girl celebrates her self-worth and value.
PS - #dawntildusk2020