Guest post by Charlie Page
There is a fundamental connection between the mind and body when it comes to self-esteem and self-respect. As a fitness specialist, I have always found it truly remarkable how many women say to me that their whole identity of who they are, where they fit in the world and what they are capable of has changed as a result of having a healthy, fit body.
When we talk about a healthy, fit body we are really talking about self care. For me self-respect, self-esteem, happiness, creating change and achieving goals all start with caring for your body respectfully: sufficient sleep, good nutrition and fitness.
Once girls really understand the importance of a healthy body and they start living a healthy life, working on the mind becomes so much easier. Self worth, self-esteem, self-responsibility and assertiveness all fall into place. It is only once you achieve both a healthy mind and body that you really understand the symbiotic relationship between the two. Without one, ultimate self-respect may always be just out of reach.
We all understand very well that the screaming, agitated, unhappy baby is hungry, tired, anxious or bored. What we don’t always understand is that teenagers who act out are often dealing with the same challenges. When I talk to teens about issues or arguments they have had with parents or friends, the ultimate source is nearly always due to feelings of low self worth, lethargy (due to inactivity), tiredness, hunger or anxiety.
At the very time girls’ bodies are changing and body image is becoming so important, girls are losing interest in competitive sports and activities. To create self-respect in girls and powerful strong women of the future, we must find a way to keep girls interested in being active. Whether it is yoga, self-defense, dancing, paddleboarding, jogging, going to the gym or just running around being silly with a bunch of other girls, we need to create avenues where they can rediscover their physical passion.
One of the most popular Power4Teens workshops is when we discuss assertiveness followed by self-defense training. The girls immediately get to utilize the verbal skills they’ve learned and combine it with the physical skills they’re taught. It’s very empowering to understand how you can take control and be assertive without being aggressive, and then see how you can physically use your skills to defend yourself if the need arises.
The first session with new participants is always the most challenging and girls are often reticent to bring forth their views and opinions. Exercise and jumping around are always great icebreakers.
Each week I see incredible changes in the girls’ confidence and involvement in the issues discussed as they enjoy and benefit from both the physical and mental aspects of the program.The most dramatic change I see in the girls by the end of the workshop is how comfortably they share their personal thoughts and experiences and how as experts in ‘teen issues’ they actually help each other resolve problems. Some of these girls may never be friends outside the workshop but it doesn’t stop them from forming unique, honest, nonjudgmental relationships among very different personalities. It’s really powerful to watch their growth.
At the end of each eight-week Power4Teens workshop, girls are asked to write “warm & fuzzies” to say how they have been positively impacted by individuals in the group. At the end of the most recent course one girl wrote this to me:
“Thank you, Charlie, this workshop has really changed my life. I was doing almost no exercise before and was eating loads of junk, I am eating better now and thinking about how I am treating my body because I have realized it will affect the decisions I make. I am so much happier and more confident and the best thing about my week is Wednesdays at Power4teens”
This is exactly what drives me to continue working with girls and realizing how important it is to set up girls groups for the well-being of our girls and our communities.
As a result of a flailing economy and parents concern for their children’s future, kids have become over-programmed with things like extra math, technology courses, and languages. Mental health issues and anxiety are on the rise.
But there’s a need for lessons in resilience and self-esteem. Those are the qualities that get you ahead in the world. Persistence and self-belief need to be taught and that is why programs like Girls’ Respect Groups and Power4Teens are essential to the future health and prosperity of our children and the world.
ABOUT CHARLIE PAGE:
Charlie is Founder of power4teens.ca, a program to get young women moving and inspired through workshops and summer camps. She is a gregarious, high-energy role model of a woman in motion!
- Check out some of the fun fitness programs on offer at power4teens.ca
- Learn more about self-esteem and self-respect in Blumen, Evans & Rucchetto, Girls’ Respect Groups: An Innovative Program To Empower Young Women & Build Self-Esteem!, Camberley Press, 2009
- Macavinta and Vander Pluym, Respect: A Girl’s Guide To Getting Respect & Dealing When Your Line Is Crossed, Free Spirit Publishing, 2005