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New Virtual Guiding Unit

New Virtual Guiding Unit

Meet Kiera from South Down County who is starting a new Virtual Unit for Girlguiding Ulster

I’m a Leader-in-Training doing my Queen’s Guide Award. I started my Guiding journey in Newtownards Rainbows and Brownies and then Newry Brownies. Previously, I helped out at Newry Rainbows and and then during the pandemic I joined in with Rathfriland Brownies via Zoom. My younger sister Hannah, who has special needs, went to Newtownards Rainbows and Newry Rainbows and always enjoyed taking part in activities and having fun with her Rainbow friends! This is where my interest in increasing inclusivity within Guiding and other settings comes from - it’s what I’m working on for my Social Action Project as part of my Queen’s Guide Award.

Due to COVID-19, my family shielded together for 15 months to protect my younger sister who is clinically extremely vulnerable. During this period virtual activities and Zoom calls became really important to our family - we, and other disabled people, found some of these activities were actually more accessible than before the pandemic. In Hannah’s case, fatigue and distance were limiting factors for participation in after-school activities. Prior to the pandemic she was travelling 90 miles to and from school each day, and there were a limited number of suitable activities that she could take part in locally.

The COVID-19 outbreak forced us all to re-think how we worked and socialised. This led me to think about the wider application of Zoom meetings for girls who couldn’t attend in person units, and so I am starting up a permanent virtual Brownie/Guide unit for girls aged between 7 and 14 years old. It is aimed at girls who had previously been excluded from Guiding, possibly due to frequent hospital stays/appointments, being too tired to go to in person meetings or have to limit their social interactions, even outside of a pandemic - perhaps because they are taking immunosuppressant medication for example cancer treatment or post-transplant.

We will be carrying out the same kind of activities in the virtual unit so that the girls who attend will still get the same diverse experience that girls in in-person units receive. Using Zoom with Rathfriland Brownies we have looked at the Space interest badge, held a virtual promise sleep-over, and invited a peer educator onto the Zoom call to do fun activities about mental health and body confidence. We also cooked and baked, and had a Jumping Clay night. It would be my intention that the girls in this virtual unit would benefit from the same types of activities.

If you have any questions, know anyone who would be interested in joining this unit or would even be interesting in helping out with the unit yourself, just send me a message at ggu.virtualguiding@girlguidingulster.org.uk.