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.