It’s been an emotional rollercoaster here at Mini Mermaid Tower this week. Last weekend started with a story in The Independent that said “There is a ‘direct correlation’ between a lack of physical activity by young British girls and them having poorer mental health and lower aspirations than their male counterparts. This is particularly troubling when studies show that girls spend half as much time being active as boys especially during the transition between primary and secondary school.
That same day, I saw pictures of some of our first time Mini Mermaids rocking their 5K challenge on a snowy London morning. Two of the girls had stated previously that they “hated” PE. One blew away her Mama Mermaid with her kick at the end of the run. The other Mermaid’s mum told us her daughter now wants to join a running club. All the girls had these looks of determination during the challenge; their pride and joy after was beyond contagious.
Then we have all the stories coming out of Sport Relief and the epic challenges undertaken. Zoe Ball had me glued to the TV on Wednesday, with tears in my eyes as I watched her 335 mile bike trek from Blackpool to Brighton to raise awareness about depression and suicide in men. I also had the privilege to watch and support a group of school children from St Matthews primary school in Leeds run in their annual Fun Run supporting St. Gemma’s Hospice, cue the tears again!
During our Mini Mermaid programme, the girls complete a service project. It may be cleaning up the school playground or field, leaving inspirational messages from the their classmates, or writing “thank you” posters to the people in their lives. The message - helping others will always make us feel better, no matter who we are or what we have.
The movement and activity that we do in Mini Mermaids has nothing to do with how we look, but how we feel and what we can do. Confidence, strength, self-esteem. That our girls are valued and will always have something of value to offer others. Being physically active gives us a vehicle to do good for others. We may not quite know how to counsel someone suffering from depression, but we can get on a bike and cycle for awareness. We may not understand the science behind palliative care, but we can run to raise money for those who do. We may not be able to cure loneliness but we can run to spend the day with an elderly person and provide critical company.
And through all of this, sometimes, the very person we help is ourselves. #thefinishlineisjustthebeginning #ittakesatribe