More than 120 Grade 7 girls from schools around Williams Lake participated in the Beauty from the Inside Out seminars held May 1-3 at St. John Lutheran Church.
The seminars are designed to help Grade 7 girls make the transition from elementary school to high school a little easier and give them information to deal with some of the challenges ahead.
“It helps prepare Grade 7s for high school,” says Courtney Burhke, a Grade 8 student at Columneetza, who helped with the seminars. “It’s a good way to prepare for the transition.”
Burhke was one of 30 high school students who volunteered to help facilitate the program.
Cataline Grade 7 students Sydney Baerg and Kimberly Hance agreed they learned a lot and the most fun they had was getting their temporary sparkle tattoos.
Kimberly says the most important thing she learned was that smoking can really, really harm you. She didn’t realize that before taking the seminar. Indeed the Beauty from the Inside Out workshops are designed to address some of the issues that may influence a girl’s decision to try smoking: her need to fit in with her peer group, her vulnerable self image, wavering self-esteem and her developing coping skills, says Denise Deschene, the school-based prevention worker with Interior Health.
“Young women in our society are bombarded with a lot of images and messages about health and beauty,” says Deschene.
“Tobacco advertising strategies suggest that happiness, pleasure, popularity and sex appeal comes with smoking and we want to dispel these myths.”
“In reality 50 per cent of teens who start smoking and continue to smoke will die from a tobacco related illness. In fact, tobacco kills more people than all other drugs combined. Girls entering high school are particularly vulnerable to starting to smoke and our goal is to keep them tobacco free.”
Through games, fun activities, and presentations the girls learned about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, reinforced with some belly dancing exercises, and healthy snacks. Columneetza cooking students made chocolate squares to go with the pizza and fruit smoothies.
Students learned about managing stress, relaxation, cellphone and Internet safety, safe dating, positive self-talk, peer helpers and more. There was a display about how too much exposure to the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and the importance of wearing sun screen.
The girls painted each other’s nails, helped each other put on temporary sparkle tattoos, made worry bead bracelets, had hand massages, and painted cloth carrying bags with their own art work to take home.
They also went home with a folder of important information on how to Make Every Date a Safe Date, Internet safety guidelines for parents and caregivers, a copy of the Canada Food Guide, a beauty risk quiz, and a physical activity guide.
Some of the cards in the folder provided reassurance with slogans such as: “There is not one right body size shape or weight” and “We will love our bodies, not someone else’s image” and “I am me.”
One note in the portfolio notes that the Maasai people in Kenya believe that true beauty is defined by our attitude. Deschene also offers tips about how parents can talk to their kids about tobacco and other drugs.
• Tell them how you feel about smoking. Even if you’re a smoker talk honestly about your experience and what you want for them.
• Don’t do all the talking; listen and read between the lines.
• Don’t threaten, badger or put your kid on the spot by asking directly about their use, they may lie which undermines your purpose.
The Beauty from the Inside Out program is provided with funding from the Women’s Contact Society and School District 27 Community Links Funding, and in-kind assistance from the Boys and Girls Club, Caribou Brain Injury Society, Leisure Services, Interior Health, and peer helpers from WLSS, CSS and Skyline schools. For more information contact Denise Deschene, school-based prevention worker 250-305-8279.