Girls & Football SA (GFSA), an NGO that empowers girls though football and life skills education, uses a game called “Check In/Check Out.” Before each session begins, participants sit in a circle and pass around a ball. When a participant gets the ball, she must state her name and how she is feeling and then say the phrase “I check in.” All the other participants respond shouting “Yo.” At the end of the training session, participants repeat the exercise but instead of saying how they feel, they must state what they liked, disliked or learned from the session and then end by saying “I check out.” After each girl speaks, everyone again responds “Yo.”
Adolescent Girl Life Skills: Understanding and explaining feelings and emotions
General Adolescent Life Skills: Managing Feelings
Adolescence can be a very confusing and emotional time for girls, particularly because they are going through significant bodily changes such as menstruation, growing of breasts and other physical and hormonal changes. It is important for girls to be able to understand what is happening to them not only physically, but emotionally as well, and learn how to express those feelings, emotions, fears and confusions in healthy and positive ways. Too often, girls feel like they are going through these changes alone and do not reach out and ask for help, explanations or support. Also, girls who are survivors of abuse or violence may keep their feelings inside, afraid to talk about what they are going through and why out of shame.
Girls can find safe spaces (both physically and emotionally) in a sport programme where they can discuss and talk about what they are feeling as they experience adolescence. Role models such as coaches and facilitators are in a great position to become confidants and guide girls through this confusing period in their lives. Through sport, girls learn how to speak out, trust others and feel part of a group, all factors that will make it easier for them to discuss and express what is going on inside their heads.
- Give girls time for individual reflection in addition to group discussions and exercises.
- Give girls a variety of outlets for expression. One girl might be comfortable talking about a difficult issue with a group, while another might be more willing to open up by writing a poem or participating in a role-play.
- Train coaches and all leaders in the program to listen to girls and encourage them to speak. Always assume a girl is telling the truth and let her know you care about her experience.