We're thrilled to announce that a programme to help increase self-esteem and wellbeing in primary school age girls has launched in Sheffield, thanks to funding from the Jane Tomlinson Appeal.
The Mini Mermaid scheme, for girls aged 7 to 11, launched in four Sheffield schools at the start of February. Its unique programme combines physical activity with mindfulness exercises to increase self-esteem and well-being during girls' formative years.
As more research shows correlations among girls reticence to partake in physical activity, the role of lack of self-esteem, and the social, mental and physical negative long term effects, Mini Mermaids offers a timely, relevant preventative programme to counter those trends.
Key elements of the programme include two characters, who represent girls' 'inner cheerleader' and their 'inner critic'. Girls learn to identify and acknowledge both voices, while developing strategies to following their positive voice.
Vicki Robinson, Manager of the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, said: "One of our core aims at the Jane Tomlinson Appeal is improving the physical and mental health and well-being of children. Mini Mermaids helps us achieve just that.
"We've already seen the benefits Mini Mermaids has brought to communities elsewhere and we're really pleased to be able to provide the funding to allow primary school age girls in Sheffield to benefit from this programme, too."
According to recent reports from Youth Sports Trust and Sport England, 96% of girls do not take part in any physical activity by the age of 14.
Among 7-11 years old, girls cite a lack of confidence as a key factor, with their confidence peaking at 9 years of age.
According to Youth Sport Trust, this lack of physical activity among girls leads to poor mental health and low aspirations later in life.
"From the beginning, we've taken a 360 approach, with a collective focus on mental, emotional and physical strength and how they interconnect," said Hannah Corne, Executive Director, Mini Mermaid Running Club UK.
"This allows us to have a positive impact and influence on girls before they drop out of physical activity and begin to lose their self-confidence. We encourage them to understand that physical activity isn't about how far they run or how fast they are but how it makes them feel and what they can accomplish."
The eight-week curriculum includes group discussion, journal work, games and workouts, all while training for a 5km challenge, which girls complete however they choose - walk, run, skip, jog.
Outcomes of Mini Mermaids include:
● Self belief: Feeling confident and proud of who they are
● Greater resilience: Engaging in goal-setting, reducing 'fear of failure' and increased assertion
● Better peer relations: Better negotiating conflict, embracing difference, being a better friend
● Positive physical self-awareness: Increased confidence in physical abilities/Understanding their physical capabilities/Understanding what it means to be physically active
● Disrupting 'normal': Having access to and completing something new and different (a 5km challenge) and the corresponding feelings, memories and sense of accomplishment when trying something new.
More than 1,400 children have completed Mini Mermaid programmes in schools and community centres in Leeds, Cardiff, London and the Wirral. The Sheffield schools include:
- Hinde House Primary
- Beck Primary School
- Stocksbridge Junior School
- Oughtibridge Primary School