Liz Adams, one of our volunteer coaches, will run the London Marathon at 28 April. Read about her unfinished business with London, how she plans to use her Mini Mermaid voice and silence Siren. Oh yes, and she's raising funds for US! MERMAIZING! The funds will allow us to bring Mini Mermaid programmes to areas of need in the UK. We adore any and all donations! Click Here!
1. How did you discover Mini Mermaids and what do you do with the organisation?
When my good friend and Valley Striders club teammate Hannah first brought Mini Mermaids to the UK, she asked if I’d be interested in getting involved. When I saw the curriculum, I thought how much I would have benefited from something like that as a kid - it’s fantastic (sorry - fintastic). I’ve coaches here in Leeds for the past three years, and I think I’ve got as much out of it as the girls have, if not more.
2. What inspired you to run London?
Me and London have unfinished business...I’ve been lucky enough to race it a few times before, and I absolutely love it (not necessarily from mile 20 onwards, mind...). The last time I toed the start line on Blackheath, I didn’t get to the finish. I’d had a cold to end all colds in the countdown to race day, and it found me out somewhere in the heart of Docklands. That was in 2012, and I’m so excited that, seven years on, I get the chance to experience it all again. Including the last bit!
3. How do you balance training with other aspects of your life?
The honest answer is that I don’t always. I LOVE my sleep anyway, but marathon training can tire me out (even more than it used to 10 years ago - I still expect myself to bounce back like I did then!). I have perfected the art of spotting cheeky nap opportunities throughout the week and taking full advantage of them.
It’s easy to become a slave to the training plans. Sometimes it’s a case of paying attention if your body and mind are getting a bit jaded. Maybe you need to allow yourself to stop and rest completely, swap a hard run for an easier one or maybe enjoy a walk or a swim. Or sleep.
4. Training always presents challenges - what are some of the ways you worked through those challenges?
I keep reminding myself what I’m doing it for. I love running but there will always be those runs that feel hard! Meeting up with friends and club mates is a great way to make sure I don’t wimp out. It’s always worth it afterwards when you’ve got your feet up and a cup of tea. And chocolate.
5. What will Siren say to you on Marathon Day? What will Mini Mermaid say?
Siren will be kicking up a fuss, I guarantee you that - or trying to, at least. When my legs start to feel heavy, everything is aching and there are still miles to go, she’ll start whining on about how I’m starting to struggle and that the wheels are falling off. If I pay attention to that thought, or start to believe it, my head will start to drop, my pace will slow and any faith in myself will quickly evaporate. So, I’ve got to shut that voice up straight away.
Someone once told me: ‘talk to yourself, don’t listen to yourself’. I’ve always found that really helpful. So, I’ll start to talk myself through it, and turn up the volume on the Mini Mermaid voice. Yes, it might be hurting, but of course it will! I can get though it. Just get to the next mile marker, the next water station. Just take the next step. I can only do my best. I’ll try to stay relaxed, and soak up the incredible atmosphere of one of the world’s greatest marathons.
6. What are you most excited about come Marathon Day? Most nervous?
I’m excited about getting on the train to London on the Friday, picking up my race number and meeting up with friends. There will be a lot of nervous faffing around with my race kit on the Saturday. On Sunday morning, I’ll just want to get to the start line and get going. I’m really hoping that my calf will feel ok (it’s been a bit tight over the past week) and that it’s not too hot. 12 degrees would be perfect, but unlikely...
7. What would you say to someone nervous about taking on a new challenge, of any kind?
I’d say it’s a good thing to feel nervous. It means you’re about to do something a bit out of your comfort zone. Start small, so that you’re breaking it down into challenging but achievable steps. How will you know what you’re capable of if you don’t give it a go?
It will be worth any discomfort for the immense pride and self-belief you get afterwards. That’s with you forever, and who knows what will happen when it starts to spill over into the rest of your life.
Remember back in December when we gave a sneak peek at new programming in Sheffield? Well, we're officially live with the first four of 16 programmes! Read the whole release here. Thanks to the team at Jane Tomlinson Appeal for the ongoing support!
Mini Mermaid Running Club UK Launches in Sheffield, with Support from Jane Tomlinson Appeal
SHEFFIELD 6 February 2019 - Welcome to Sheffield, Mini Mermaid Running Club UK! First started in the UK in 2015, this programme for girls age 7-11 launched in four Sheffield schools in the beginning of February. Mini Mermaids’ unique programme combines physical activity with mindfulness exercises to increase self-esteem and well-being during girls’ formative years. The new programmes are funded by a grant from long-time supporter, the Jane Tomlinson Appeal.
As more research shows correlations among girls reticence to partake in physical activity, the role of lack of self-esteem, and the social, mental and physical negative long term effects, Mini Mermaids offers a timely, relevant preventative programme to counter those trends. Key elements of the programme include two characters, who represent girls’ inner cheerleader and their inner critic. Girls learn to identify and acknowledge both voices, while developing strategies to following their positive voice.
Vicki Robinson, Manager of the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, said: “One of our core aims at the Jane Tomlinson Appeal is improving the physical and mental health and well-being of children. Mini Mermaids helps us achieve just that.
“We’ve already seen the benefits Mini Mermaids has brought to communities elsewhere and we’re really pleased to be able to provide the funding to allow primary school age girls in Sheffield to benefit from this programme, too.”
According to recent reports from Youth Sports Trust and Sport England, 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, with their confidence peaking at 9 years of age. According to Youth Sport Trust, this lack of physical activity among girls leads to poor mental health and low aspirations later in life.
‘From the beginning, we’ve taken a 360 approach, with a collective focus on mental, emotional and physical strength and how they interconnect,’ said Hannah Corne, Executive Director, Mini Mermaid Running Club UK. ‘This allows us to have a positive impact and influence on girls before they drop out of physical activity and begin to lose their self-confidence. We encourage them to understand that physical activity isn’t about how far they run or how fast they are but how it makes them feel and what they can accomplish.’
The eight-week curriculum includes group discussion, journal work, games and workouts, all while training for a 5km challenge, which girls complete however they choose - walk, run, skip, jog. Outcomes of Mini Mermaids include:
More than 1,400 children have completed Mini Mermaid programmes in schools and community centres in Leeds, Cardiff, London and the Wirral. The Sheffield schools include:
About Mini Mermaid Running Club UK
Established in the UK in 2015, Mini Mermaids Running Club UK work with girls between the ages of 7-11 to build self-worth, confidence and resilience. Mini Mermaids combine mindfulness, physical activity, and games. Girls learn to be brave, rather than perfect, which can impact their lifelong emotional, mental and physical well-being. MMRC UK has more than 140 programmes in schools and community centres in Leeds, London, The Wirral, Cardiff and Sheffield.
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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!