Maine attraction!

GUIDING is alive and well in the borough and always glad to benefit from both prospective new members and leaders, the District Commissioner for Maine District says.

Miriam McIlvenna, who admits to being “keen to shout about Guiding”, points out that Girlguiding UK offers young women and children a programme packed with activities and challenges.

She says: “It encourages girls of all abilities to push themselves to the limit, face challenges, and learn from their experiences.

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“With hundreds of international camps and volunteering opportunities all over the world each year, Girlguiding offers girls and young women the chance to broaden their horizons – regardless of financial/religious background.

“Guiding offers a “girl-only” space where girls can just be themselves,” says Miriam.

She added: “One of the most recent guiding publications called “Me in Mind” tackles important issues such as self-esteem and peer-pressure with the older age groups, so it’s not all sitting around a campfire singing silly songs (though that’s fun too!).

Miriam explained that as part of this initiative, guide groups all over the UK have been lobbying parliament. The petition, which attracted more than 25,000 signatures, called on the Prime Minister to introduce compulsory labelling to distinguish between airbrushed and natural images in order to ‘shape a generation of self-confident girls and young women’.

She also stressed that locally, guiding is very much alive.

“I’ve been in guiding since I was 10 and have gained so much and made so many friends. I’ve completed my Duke of Edinburgh award through guiding, been to Denmark and met guides from all over the world, and I’ve enjoyed countless weekends, camps, sleepovers and dreaded 24 hour stay-awakes!,” she said.

“The best bit of all though is seeing girls enjoy themselves each week, and benefit from the packed programme of activities which their dedicated leaders work so hard to provide.

“As the District Commissioner for Maine District, I’m keen to shout about Guiding. We have one unit with a waiting list and three units at bursting point,” she revealed.

“The rainbows in Ahoghill are keen to see new faces, as are the guides in Cullybackey. It is a pleasure to see girls enjoying guiding so much, but it is a pity that more girls couldn’t join the fun”.

Miriam pointed out that new leaders are needed in various areas throughout the division, which includes Broughshane, Ballymena, Cullybackey and Ahoghill.

This would involve taking rainbows, brownies or guides once a week, and attending the odd division meeting to hear what’s happening in the County.

You don’t need to have been a leader before, as all training is provided, with qualifications available to work towards when you get your bearings!

Miriam says: “If you feel you couldn’t help each week, there are other ways to volunteer and help leaders support girls. If you think you’ve got something to give to guiding – be it time, support, or specialised skills – please email me at [email protected] We have all sorts of roles such as administrators, treasurers, secretaries, walkers, crafters, cooks and help with outdoor pursuits as well as being a leader within a unit.

“Girlguiding UK is the largest youth organisation for girls in the UK today. Last year we celebrated the Centenary of guiding in style, but we need your help to take us into the next 100 years!,” she said.