The final week of Sole Sistas’ was a celebration of the girls as their unique selves. We discussed various barriers to engaging in physical activity and how we can remove those and discussed the many benefits of physical activity; improved cognitive function; improved health and wellbeing; physical benefits; reduces stress; increases confidence; releases hormones that make you happy and most importantly, it is fun!
The girls’ took part in a gym session, where they were taken through a fun and challenging session. They pushed themselves a little harder than they normally would and were pleasantly surprised to see what they can achieve when they put their minds to it.
The six weeks Sole Sistas’ club is now over, and it have been an absolute pleasure to work with the students. We have covered many topics, had many discussions, engaged in fun physical activity with friends and learnt a lot about ourselves. We have shared tools with the girls that they can use to manage tricky or stressful situations and which will support them to engage in more physical activity with all the benefits that brings.
Mindfulness means paying full attention to something. It means slowing down to really notice what you’re doing. Being mindful is the opposite of rushing or multitasking. When you’re mindful, you’re taking your time. You’re focusing in a relaxed, easy way. It helps reduce stress and anxiety, allows a sense of perspective and can be calming and grounding. It also helps with exam stress.
The girls did a series of mindful tasks, one of which was mindful eating, exploring the food slowly, using all of their senses. The girls reported that eating the chocolate and raisins slowly was a new experience for them, in which they noticed different things that they hadn’t noticed before. The girls also did mindful breathing and a body scan. We discussed mindfulness and the ways it can be applied to life, such as when sitting in an exam, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, just focusing on your breath for a few seconds can allow you to feel a sense of calm and gain a sense of perspective and feel ready to carry on with a clear mental focus.
These principles were then applied to the physical activity session, where the girls played football. The girls played in the usual way, then they had to play without running, then without speaking, all the while being mindful during their game. When we reflected on the game after the session, one girl told us that she would normally have been frustrated whilst playing, but by playing mindfully, she reported a sense of calm and enjoyment for the game, being in the moment she was able to have perspective. The combination of the feel good hormones from physical activity and the calm and perspective that mindfulness can give us helps us to lower levels of stress and raise levels of calm and happiness. This is a great way to support our overall wellbeing.
Next week is our last week and we are looking forward to working with the girls and sharing more tips and strategies that they can use to support their health and wellbeing, whilst gaining the benefits of fun physical activity with their friends.
Week 4 of Sole Sistas explored the theme of confidence and judgement by others and judgement of yourself. Judgement is exhausting! Our time is better spent putting our energy into supporting ourselves and others. We discussed what confidence looks like and how confidence in physical activity is not about achieving but about doing. Give yourself permission to have fun. What’s the worst that could happen? You drop the ball – pick it back up – you are already building resilience!
The girls then took part in a basketball session, where they worked in pairs and as part of a larger group. There was no judgement of themselves or others. The girls were smiling, laughing, giggling and supporting each other. The girls allowed themselves to enjoy the activity and have fun to experience how good it feels to play for the joy of it!
This week is week two of the Sole Sista’s club, the six-week club, designed to support girls’ physical and mental health and wellbeing, with a different theme each week to support a different aspect of wellbeing. The club is a combination of discussion, physical activity and self-reflection. This week’s discussion was based on wellbeing and the benefits of physical activity. The girls were surprised to learn that academic achievement can be positively impacted by physical activity, which raises cognitive abilities, enabling us to understand information more easily after being physically active.
The physical activity session was a fun filled 45 minutes of ball games, where the girls worked together in teams, before competing against each other. The session had the girls laughing, smiling and getting out of breath and the girls left smiling and happy. We look forward to seeing you next week for more fun, physical activity, self-reflection and laughter!