A vibrant Limerick girl guides group is inspiring confidence in young girls and women by creating safe spaces for them to simply be themselves and celebrate their individuality.
Naomi Keays, Leader of the Blackberry Guides unit in Caherdavin, explained the benefits that girls from the age of five to thirty can avail of.
“We are an organisation that focuses on developing girls’ confidence through creating a safe space for girls to be themselves and have fun,” she said.
Naomi added that the work of the Irish Girl guides has benefitted the Caherdavin area.
“The benefit is really felt in our area as it contributes to the community by bringing youth together in an enjoyable but beneficial way,” she continued.
The Irish Girl Guides have 1200 members between adults and children, however there are often international opportunities for members of the organisation.
“We are always encouraging and supporting girls to travel on behalf of the Irish Girl Guides. I myself have been to an international camp in France called Roverway and have attended the Helen Storrow seminar in the Swiss Alps” Naomi added.
One of the best programmes ran by the organisation throughout Ireland was the “Free Being Me” programme that a number of Irish Units ran in 2017.
The “Free Being Me” programme is an international Girl Guides programme delivered to Brownies, aged seven to 11; guides aged 11-14 and senior members aged 14-30.
The programme aims to promote body confidence and encourage the girls to be happy with themselves as they are, with consideration all the pressure and influence by the media of today.
“The Free Being Me program was run in our unit, Blackberry Guides, and it was extremely successful. We ran different activities on body positivity and body image and we got very good feedback from the girls. The girls are at such an impressionable age, and in the safe space provided by the Guides, we were able to aid them in accepting and loving themselves for who they are,” Naomi said.
Overall, Naomi explains how as a leader, her main aim is to improve the confidence of each girl guide.
“Through different activities, like camping for example, we are able to show the girls all that they can do. Throughout the week, they learn new skills, such as pitching tents, pioneering, cooking on a fire – all this shows them how capable they are, and they can do anything they set their minds to” added Naomi.
As well as being a place to improve self-esteem and confidence, Naomi outlines the importance of gaining great new friendships through being part of the Irish Girl Guides.
“A Guiding friendship truly is a special one and is something you’ll have for life. Something I have always noticed that I’ve picked up from my years of Guiding is my ability to speak quite comfortably in front of a large group of people. I find it easy to make friends and have no qualms about leading a campfire song”.
For more information on the Blackberry Girl Guides group, visit www.irishgirlguides.ie