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Peer Educators Weekend

On Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July 2014, 10 girls (all involved in Girlguiding) took part in a Basic Training. The training was held at Trefoil House in Birmingham and was based on training all 10 girls to become ‘Peer Educators’.

The 5th July was the first day of the training. The training started at 9am Saturday morning. The day started off by just introducing ourselves, and getting to know each other for about half hour. We then went on to talking about our first topic which was “Free Being Me” and we spoke about the ‘image myth’ which is basically the idea that you have to look a certain way to be beautiful, and as a group we spoke and came up with what the perfect girl looks like and we wrote it up on a massive piece of paper.

After we had come up with what we thought the perfect girl looks like, we realised that there is no such thing as the perfect girl, we are all perfect and beautiful in our own way. We then had a little chat as a group, about how everyone is perfect and beautiful and there is no such thing as the image myth, and we should all be confident in who we are. After this, we spoke about what types of skills we needed to have to be a peer educator, and did this by doing a variety of fun, and funny activities. For example, we were told to get into groups of 2 or 3 and write down on a piece of paper instructions on how to make a jam sandwich. Before we started the activity, we were told to write in as much detail as possible and at the start we all thought ‘what has making a jam sandwich got to do with being a peer educator?!’, but when everyone had written down their instructions, we had to pass it on to the next group (and there was 3 groups in total) and each group had to go up to the front and use the equipment we were given to make a jam sandwich. We had jam, butter and bread, and we were told to follow the instructions we were given to make a jam sandwich, but we could only follow the instructions on the piece of paper. My group was the first group to go up and make the jam sandwich, and on our instructions it said to “place two pieces of bread down and put some butter on each piece of bread, after you have done that spread some jam onto each piece of bread, then place the two piece of bread together by putting them on top on each other and cut them in half” but the instruction we were given didn’t say to open the bread, or to open the butter or jam, and it didn’t say to pick up the knife so we couldn’t get the bread out, we couldn’t open the butter or jam and we couldn’t cut the sandwich in half, so we ended up just placing the whole jam jar on top on the loaf of bread as well as the butter which was very funny! The same happened with another group when they made their jam sandwich, but the instructions they were following (which was my group’s instructions), said to open the bread, the butter and jam, and place two pieces of bread down, but we forgot to say pick up the knife so the group that was making the jam sandwich had to use their fingers to spread the butter and jam which was also very funny. However the meaning this activity was to teach us that when we are doing our Peer Education sessions, we must make sure that we are writing our instructions in detail because if we miss out on something, it can change the whole activity around and the activity we had planned could be completely different to what we had planned. We also did an activity, where we worked in pairs to group cards up that were to do with a peer educator, and we were also split in half and had to write on an A3 piece of paper what a peer educator had to be like, so confident, organized, helpful, role model etc. after we had done this activity, we were given an A4 piece of paper, and it had an outline of a person on, and we had to write in the inside what skills a peer educator had, that we already had and then we had to write on the outside, what skills a peer educator had but we hadn’t, so we can see what we need to work on.

On the Saturday afternoon, we were given 3 booklets for ‘Free Being Me’ one called the activity guide for facilitators, one with the activities for Brownies in the sessions and another one for Guides. We had a look through them and had a bit of discussssion, and then went on to our next discussion/topic which was about have a having a room ready if ever one of the girls you were doing the session with needed some space because they found the session a bit too overwhelming (which we called safe space). We also said it would be a place if one of the girls were playing up and you thought some time out will be good for them. We also spoke about if ever a problem occurred like a child was being naughty, how we would deal with it, without it affecting any of the other girls. We also spoke about ‘Body talk’ which is basically instead of commenting on someone’s hair or make up, we should comment on things like their personality or what they have done recently ( like I really like your personality, you are really kind and a lovely person to talk to).

Near the end of the day, we were told what we were going to do the next day, and one of the things we were doing was having a go at leading our own sessions. We were put in groups of 3 or 2 and Fliss (the lady who was running it) gave us all a section out of the Brownies activity book and gave us a problem that would occur in the session. I was put in a group of 3 and the section of the book my group was given was called ‘You’re a Star and Treasure Hunt’ and our problem was one of the brownies got a bit upset and started to cry (it made us think if there was ever a problem like this in a session how would we deal with it), so for the rest of the time we had left on Saturday, we had to plan our session using the booklet, and organise the activities that were in the book for the next day. We had to plan all the equipment we needed for the Sunday ( the next day) and let Fliss know so she could get the equipment for it (so it was involving us using our organization skills). Also by doing this session, it gave us an insight to what it is like to run a session, and what is expected of us. The booklet told us all the information on how to run the activity and what time length we had for each activity and we were able to keep the booklets for future sessions. By the end of Saturday, we all had our sessions ready to go for the following morning and we had made sure all the equipment we needed. At the end of the first day, I walked out of trefoil house feeling really happy and excited for the next day because I felt like the girls who ran the training had fully explained the skills and types of things that are expected from a peer educator, and I felt that they had supplied us with everything we needed so far!
On the 2nd day (Sunday) we all met up at trefoil house ready to run our sessions that we had planned the day before. Before we ran our small sessions, we were given the equipment we had asked for the day before and we were given 5 minutes just to clarify what we were doing as a group. We then went in the order of how the activities came in the book and in our groups ran the sessions we were given and the rest of us were pretending to be Brownies. The sessions were good fun, and it was funny because Fliss and Olivia (our trainers) were acting out the problems (like being naughty brownies, pretending to cry etc). The sessions took up most of the morning, but just before we had lunch we got into our county groups and Maggie came and the trainers spoke to us about how we will get the sessions and what things we will get to run the sessions (a box with all equipment in and a t-shirt). Fliss and Maggie worked with our Birmingham group, and we spoke about how we could spread the word that there are Peer Educators in the area, and she spoke to us about the things we will be supplied with to run the sessions. It was also a time to ask any questions, or share any problems we have.

After lunch, we went on to the 2nd topic which was healthy relationships. With this topic we learnt about it a bit differently compared to ‘free being me’ and we weren’t given the booklets (we were emailed them after). To start with, we were taught about how we should present our sessions when we are running them, and the order we should do it in. We then numbered the order the session should go in (like the introduction, where we introduce our self in the session and say why we are running the session was number one and then the ice break which is a game was number two etc.) and we then we got to chose which number we wanted to do and we got to chose if we did it in pairs or on our own and present it relating it to the topic healthy relationships. I chose number 6 (an energizer/game ) and I did it as a pair, and we got to chose out of a selection of games, but all the games were to do with relationships and how we can improve bad relationships. Myself and my partner chose a game which involved players pairing up and answering the questions on the sheet of paper which were about you saying what your ideal person would be and the types of personality they would have. When everyone had present the bit they had chosen to do, we all had a better understanding on the topic ‘healthy relationship’. Towards the end of the day, we spoke about the 3rd topic which was alcohol, drugs and sex. At the end of the day, we were all given a certificate, name tag (which we will wear in our sessions saying we are a peer educator) and we filled a few things out for the future, we then reflected back on the weekend.

From looking back I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and learnt a lot. I think the most enjoyable bit was making the jam sandwich and doing the sessions Sunday morning. The training is suitable for a lot of ages and on my training the youngest was 14 and the oldest was 22. They also split the training up and have a few breaks where biscuits and drinks are supplied. I would definitely recommend it to girls who are within Girlguiding because it is a great opportunity, it looks great on your CV and it is a really good fun weekend!