Free Being Me – the grand finale

In some kind of nutty diary planning, our grand finale to the Free Being Me project turned out to be waaay more crazy than we realised. Sunday 7th June was the day we put in the diary at Easter for the Guides’ exhibition.

First of all, two school holidays  in the month leading up to the exhibition which meant gaps between meetings so the Guides had less time to get the work done. Secondly during that time the other Assistant Leader was on exam leave. Thirdly, I was getting placement done (and the week before I was organising a wikipedia editathon event and a exhibition at a play as part of that) and fourthly, both Anneleen (our photographer) and myself had our final hand-ins for university hitting at the same time. Oh, and our Unit Leader’s kids had sports days and dance exam rehearsals on the week of said exhibition.

IMG_5568I made my family extremely grumpy as I took over the dining room table that week – with only one laptop (mine) at the final two meetings, and I think the same situation was going on at our Unit Leader, Jo’s house.

The girls had put together some stuff about Free Being Me and chosen photos I’d been taking ‘behind the scenes’ at their photo shoot sessions to put together a bit about what they’d done with Anneleen for the event.

IMG_3322This also included their messages speaking out against the beauty myth (the middle display board).

Despite having to take some of their content to type up, I didn’t correct any of it. None of us had been hovering over them too much, and I was blown away by what they wrote. Two of our oldest Guides had done the ‘About Free Being Me’ board (on the left). I used their words for our Press Release which got published on a local news website and the Girlguiding Scotland website.

The Guides had also decided they wanted to share their Free Being Me wall – they each wrote about someone who inspired them…we had parents, siblings, fish, famous women and even Dobby the house-elf from Harry Potter. I’m sure some adults would have told the girls they could only pick real-life humans, but I think it’s perfectly legitimate to be inspired by fictional characters. Sally Fletcher from Aussie soap Home and Away was a role model for me as a young girl.

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Leading up the stairs were the inspirational people/fish (some with pictures), they wrote who they were, and why they found them inspirational. On the other side, I had typed out every single quote they had written on numerous pieces of scrap paper and the girls had these going up the stairs on the other side…

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I don’t know where half these quotes came from, so I’m sorry if we didn’t give you credit. Most of these came from the girls’ memories or they made them up themselves I think.

And then of course were the portraits.

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My favourite part of the day was when I got to be present to a parent seeing their daughter’s portrait for the first time. So many of them gasped and looked at me, Jo or Anneleen and said ‘It really captures xxxxxx’s personality‘. Which of course was the point – the girls did such a great job working with Anneleen to find what makes them – well – them! And Anneleen really captured it with her camera.

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The girls raised £130 with a bake sale they organised and decided to have for charity. Frustratingly, the charity they’d chosen had closed down (we only discovered this when the girls asked if I’d email the charity to invite them to the exhibition and tell them they were going to fundraise for them). So note to charities – if you have to close down – please say this on your website, or take your website down!! I was proud of how they welcomed members of the public, served them tea and coffee, and also got very into inventing ‘cocktails’ and putting signs about them outside the heritage centre. ‘Borange’ being the main one (Orange and Apple and Blackcurrant squash mixed together in case you’re wondering).

The paper had asked if we could get a high resolution photo of the girls at the exhibition. Unfortunately not all the Guides were together at the same time due to some of them having other commitments such as rowing and dancing. But we giggled at Anneleen standing on a chair and getting attacked by a fan or light switch while she snapped some pictures of the girls in front of their portraits.

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However, much to Jo and I’s chagrin the photo that ended up in the paper was one with the two of us in it. And Anneleen and I have had a giggle that her new artist name should be ‘Anne Leen’ as the editor put in the photo credit rather than ‘Anneleen Lindsay’…

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The girls are getting to take their portraits home to keep at the end of term, and I hope that they’ll remember everything we’ve learned together during this last term and a half doing Free Being Me. Now, there’s just our final campfire and last meeting where 7 Brownies who’ll be joining us after the summer will be coming to help with their transition up the sections.

And it seems like two of the girls have used this term as an opportunity to step out and take hold of the opportunities we’ve been telling them about for so long. They are off to their first ever Guide camp this summer – a national one at that (neither of them have been camping with Girlguiding before) and have decided not to move up to Senior Section quite yet..they want to get their Baden-Powell first. 🙂

I ended up with only five days to do my final assignment for university – but it was worth it to support our Guides to accomplish so much. We, as their leaders, are unbelievably proud of them!

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