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'