Today was my first session as a Mosaic Primary School Mentor, which took place at Webster Primary School, Greenheys, just a ten minute walk from the busy Oxford Road in Manchester.
I choose to take part in mentoring primary age school girls, and their Mums also, because I felt that contributing to raising aspirations is really important. Girls and women receive mixed messages about their potential to achieve, with statistics showing that just 4 out of 22 Cabinet Ministers are women (gov.uk, 2013). The absence of women’s voices has affected my own choices, and I want to contribute my voice to a dialogue with this absence and hopefully, the voices of these young girls and their Mothers would inspire me as well as me inspiring them!
Unlike the planning session when the rain was torrential, today the weather was bright and sunny. Myself and the other mentor, Sarah Logan, arrived early enough to settle in, waiting for the mothers and Year 5/6’s to arrive.
The absence of women’s voices has affected my own choices, and I want to contribute my voice to a dialogue with this absence and hopefully, the voices of these young girls and their Mothers would inspire me as well as me inspiring them!
At first the Mothers appeared; one of them has five children, the oldest of whom is in Year 6! She is incredibly busy. One of them lives so near the school she can hear the school bell, punctuating her day. All women have really full lives, ESOL courses, nursing courses, and of course, the children!
The first activity was aimed at finding out more about the interests of girls and their mums. These ranged from swimming, being able to do the splits, having four siblings, their favourite colour (blue, purple, yellow). They also spoke about their career interests; I felt they were really confident with telling us this and it reminded me of how when we’re younger we do not put limits on our potential, it is as we grow older that we feel our potential and options becoming limited and without encouragement that early self-belief can fade. It also shows how for some girls they are confident about their pathways early on, but others didn’t mention what they were interested in, and perhaps do not visualise their futures yet. Some of the professions spoken of were: nursing, becoming a doctor, a midwife, a writer.
Having got to know the girls and Mums better, the next activity was an icebreaker which visually shows the group’s interactions and also finds out who is good at catching! You throw a ball of string to one participant, and keep hold of one end of it as you throw. When you’ve caught the ball, you must answer the question. The question we asked the group was if you could have any superpower, what would it be?
The superpowers ranged from being able to read people’s minds, travel forwards or backwards in time, or one girl imaginatively choose to be a dream reader. One Mum chose to be very strong! Two Mums wanted to be peace makers, which I thought was really lovely and reminded me that the Manchester theme of the last International Women’s Day was women as peacemakers.
It was really fun getting to know the group and I’m looking forward to the next session which will be our first informative session on the theme of People and the Community. Sarah Logan and I work together as a creative writing pair, and we are looking forward to introducing some of these activities to the group!