With over ten million girl and adult members, it’s no question that the global Girl Guide and Girl Scout Movement has enormous reach. We can learn so much about ourselves and those around us by connecting and sharing our experiences this World Thinking Day. Our hope is that February 22 is just the beginning of an ongoing dialogue between your troops, service units, and communities about the ways that we can deepen our understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how we can put these concepts into practice.
In our previous posts, we explored the “what” and “why” of this year’s theme and covered some groundwork you can do to prepare yourself to lead World Thinking Day activities. Now we’ll dive into the “how” of World Thinking Day—the steps girls need to complete to earn the award, resources available, and how to adapt these activities for groups both large and small.
Earning the World Thinking Day Award
While we celebrate the holiday on a specific date, girls can actually work on and earn the World Thinking Day award any time during the year. To earn the award, girls should complete the five steps as outlined in Girl Scouts of the USA’s activity guides. (Note that these are also available as three meeting plans in the Volunteer Toolkit.) In the first three steps, girls connect to their worldwide Girl Scout and Girl Guide sisters and explore the meaning of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Then, in the final two steps, they’ll plan and carry out a Take Action project.
For the Take Action project, girls should think of a problem that addresses this year’s theme and brainstorm solutions for that problem. The idea of carrying out a Take Action project related to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion might be intimidating because the root causes for those problems (like systemic racism, ableism, and misogyny) can seem so deep. However, remember that girls need to know that they can affect change in the world; their project may be small in scope, but working towards a solution is still progress! Like all Take Action projects, this one can be tailored to fit your troop’s interests, the amount of time you have available, and your troop’s skills and abilities.
One way to get this process started is to build reflection questions into each activity. For example, after girls have explored the definition of inclusion, you can ask them to name some of the ways they feel included in their everyday lives and what ways they feel excluded. If they feel excluded by a particular rule, place, or action, most likely, there are other folks who feel the same way. How can they address this issue to make it more inclusive? We encourage you and your girls to connect with other local organizations who might also be doing work around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Tips for Leading World Thinking Day Activities
In the activity guides, you’ll see that each step has three options you can choose from. For service units putting on larger events, refer to our handy two-page resource. Whether your World Thinking Day is for one or one hundred troops, here are a few pointers on leading these activities:
- Create a group agreement before starting the activities. Similar to a troop agreement, this helps set the tone for the rest of the meeting. You can either have girls create a list of ground rules themselves, or bring a list of pre-written rules and ask girls for input to add to them.
- Build group trust before moving on to activities that involve more social or emotional risk. If your troop has been together for a while, you might just do one ice breaker, energizer, or team-building activity before moving into the bulk of your World Thinking Day activities. Girls who aren’t as familiar with their troop members may need to spend additional time to get to know one another before engaging on a deeper level. Building group trust can help pave the way to more authentic and honest discussions and experiences.
- Be open to questions. Exploring diversity, equity, and inclusion will inevitably bring up questions, especially for girls who may not have had a chance to talk about these topics in other areas of their life. While their questions may make you uncomfortable, especially if you don’t have the answers, it’s a sign that they see you as a trusted adult with whom they can bring up these concerns. (And here are a few strategies for answering kids’ tough questions!)
- Close well. Make sure to include time at the end of the meeting to give girls a chance to debrief. This reflection piece is critical to make sure you address any emotions that might have come up during the activities before girls leave the space. Ask girls what their experience was like doing the World Thinking Day activities, what they learned, and how they’re feeling. You may not be able to fully resolve these feelings during the debrief session, so encourage girls to journal about it, or make time during your next meeting to talk further.
Every aspect of your identity—your family’s background, where you grew up, what religion you observe—plays a part in how you see and interact with the world around you. Despite this being a crucial part of our development, a recent study from the Sesame Workshop, the team of experts behind Sesame Street, showed that parents, guardians, and teachers aren’t talking enough about these topics with kids. Girl Scouts can help fill this gap by providing space for girls to explore these topics. This World Thinking Day is a perfect opportunity to open the conversation with our Girl Scouts and examine how our identities intersect with the overarching theme of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Next in the series: World Thinking Day 2020: Plan for Success
Lily Yu –Lily is a Program Resource Specialist at River Valleys. She earned her BA in comparative literature and Japanese from Hamilton College and has a background in publishing and advertising. Though she wasn’t a Girl Scout growing up, Lily is making up for lost time as a volunteer and troop cookie manager for her daughter’s Brownie troop. In her free time, she enjoys going for long walks, reading, and spending time with her family (and rescue dog, Neil!)