South East Wales

Girls Network: 'I just like to improve other people'

Jasmine King, 19, started volunteering with the Girls Network in Bridgend county when she was 14 and a pupil at Cynffig Comprehensive in her home town of Kenfig Hill. The project runs in all Bridgend's secondary schools and aims to get more teenage girls active, improve their self-esteem, confidence and aspirations.

The project is now being extended to primary school age pupils in order to catch issues earlier.

Here Jasmine explains how she became a volunteer and what it has involved.

I heard about it from [coordinator] Amie Lea, and she asked me if I would like to join the group. I started off while I was in secondary school and this resulted in working in the community through the Girls Power network group.

I remember the meeting we first had when we were trying to get members to join the network group. When we did the surveys, we found out the girls wanted to do swimming lessons, and some wanted to do the gym.

So, I took a group of young girls from Key Stage 3 down to the local Halo leisure centre. We just walked down together and some people wanted to do swimming, so some did that and some did the gym. So there was an option then for them both.

Image caption Jasmine running a session for primary school pupils, as Girls Network is now looking at younger children

It was their first time in the gym. I remember speaking to one of the girls and they'd never been before so obviously I had to explain how to use some of the equipment.

The first day we went, there was nobody in there so they felt quite comfortable, and there was not many of them anyway.

They felt comfortable because it was quiet.

I felt proud because I've improved them in some way, even if it's just going down the gym. I've still improved them.

I personally wasn't that sporty but I just like to improve other people.

I was involved in sports in Key Stage 3 and going up to GCSE, but then I started to drop off. So because it had happened to me personally that's why I wanted to make improvement with other girls.

So I was in their shoes really; that's why I want to help them.

We're just trying to improve all girls' self-esteem and trying to boost their confidence.

Image copyright Girls Network
Image caption One of the activities was carried out in the dark with fluorescent clothing

A lot of girls didn't want to take part [in events] because it was a confidence issue.

We did a self-esteem workshop that helped to improve their confidence.

We did an event where we had different physical activities and sports, so that was all glow in the dark. They all had face paint and glow-in-the-dark wrist bands.

When the lights are off and they can't see - some girls are so insecure so when it's dark they feel more confident. They know that people aren't watching them, they just see luminous paint, so they feel more confident so they're not showing off the bits they don't want people to see.

'Encouraging them'

We had volley ball, badminton, table tennis, so lots of different activities, but on the same day we had someone coming in doing hair and beauty, so they would do the girls' hair. Some girls didn't want their hair getting sweaty so they were making them feel more confident when they took part.

There's a lot of ways of encouraging them. A lot of girls just want to be with their friends or whatever, so if it's a paid event, we just tell them to bring along a friend for free.

Just making them feel welcome, and being a friend for them yourself.

Jasmine has since left school and is now studying for a sports leadership and development degree at the University of South Wales.

Image caption The Girl Power charity has been set up off the back of the Girls Network scheme

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