Danielle Miller is co-founder and CEO of Enlighten Education, the 2007 Small Business Awards National Champion in Children’s Services. This innovative and socially aware small business works nationally with teen girls in schools delivering programs that aim to boost self esteem, foster a positive body image and help girls deconstruct the media messages they are bombarded with.
Danielle doesn’t say there are necessarily direct links between negative body image, incidents of self-harm and risky sexual practices but she does say there are indicators that teenage girls are stressed, unhappy and looking for love…can we ignore this?
“Teenage girls are living in a girl poisoning culture and, whilst they may appear to be coping as they are still performing well academically, underneath that ‘oh so perfect’ façade, many are silently imploding:
- A quarter of teenage girls in Australia say they would get plastic surgery if they could, and two per cent have already gone under the knife.
- Almost 60 per cent wanted to be lighter on the scales, and 45 per cent said they knew someone with an eating disorder.
- 3 per cent have tried the party drug ice, five per cent had swallowed an ecstasy pill and 13 per cent have smoked marijuana.
- half said they drink alcohol, with one in five confessing to having done something they regret while they were drunk
- 85 per cent worried about achieving at school
- Peer pressures is also a reality for many, with 70 per cent of girls confessing they have been bullied.
As many as one in ten teenage girls self-harm. There is evidence to suggest that women, particularly those under 25, attempt suicide and self-harm at a higher rate than men, although male suicide rates remain considerably higher than female suicide rates. Estimates of self-harm rates suggest there are between 150 and 300 acts of self-harm for every female suicide.
Sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase amongst young people, it has been estimated that as many as 28% of teenagers may have Chlamydia. In Australia, pregnancy termination (abortion) is the second most common hospital procedure for girls aged 12 to 24 years.”
Although statistics can be misleading it would seem crazy to ignore this research and those raising and teaching young girls could benefit from the Enlighten Programs.
1. The Journey: Dream, Discover, Explore
This is a High School Survival Kit for girls aged 12-14 years. ‘The Journey’ is a full day program covering everything from stress management to friendship do’s and don’ts. Using a combination of hands on and inter, designed to help in the transition from Year 6 into Year 7.
“No offense but I thought it would be boring. But everything, everything, everything was the best! I learnt all personalities are ok, how to be organized, how to have a clear work space, what diaries are for and how to have fun. You guys ROCK!” Lily.
2. The Butterfly Effect: Celebrate, Challenge, Change
For girls 13-18, years 7-12. The idea of ‘The Butterfly Effect’ comes from the science of chaos theory. It suggests that everything is connected…We recognise that when it comes to the impact we as individuals have on our environment, small changes can make a huge difference. Enlighten is about celebrating, challenging and changing ourselves and our world.
“I loved all of it! It inspired me in so many ways and taught me a lot – be proud of who you are, don’t change your image because your friends do, be what you want to be – I had fun – seriously!” Anon, Yr8.
3. Girl Essentials
For girls 13-18, years 7-12. You choose one of two core half-day workshops:
LOVE THE SKIN YOU’RE IN
Negative stereotyping, sexism, media images, the fixation on being thin, these are all issues today’s girls are facing. In this workshop we encourage girls to critically evaluate the messages that bombard them every day and develop strategies that help them respond intelligently and objectively.
WAKE UP SLEEPING BEAUTY
Rediscovering the Princess within…little girls believe they can be whatever they would like to be, be friends with whoever amuses them, let people know when they are being annoyed, and eat whatever tastes delicious – when did the rules change and why have we let things become so complex? This workshop challenges girls to reconnect with their core values and beliefs and helps them remember just how truly special they are.
“My favourite part was “Wake Up Sleeping Beauty” – I found that this was the workshop that I got a lot out of, things that I could apply to my life, it was very helpful. Thank you so much for the inspirational talk, I have got so much out of it. It was an excellent day.” Emma.
4. Career Gal
This half-day program for girls 15-18 in years 10-12 is specifically designed for students in the senior years and identifies the skills employers are seeking, provides an awareness of the importance of maintaining work life balance, and encourages the development of emotional intelligence competencies. Schools that have run this program tell us the content covered is highly relevant and the program enhances the schools’ own careers and transition programs.
“Everything we did today was new to me and will help me, thanks so much Danni as it was heaps of fun and I learnt so much – like how to write a resume, what skills I really need to enter the workforce, and also how to deal with relationships and other people.” Hanna.
Thanks to Peter Kenyon’s Bank Of I.D.E.A.S newsletter for this story about a business doing well and doing something worthwhile.