Thursday, July 26, 2012


This post is a little bit delayed but it was such a big undertaking that I wanted to share the process!

SWAPS (Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere)

I had to create 200 SWAPS for the Girls’ World Forum in Chicago and I was really befuddled as to what I should do. I have been to events before where the SWAPS were cool, but they just sat in a bag after I got them and I never did anything with them. I wanted to do something that could be used and still have meaning. I decided to make friendship bracelets and trust me it was not a quick process.

First I needed to decide on a design- I chose a simple embroidery floss bracelet with a Shrinky Dink charm that said “I AM A GIRL GUIDE FOR CHANGE GWF 2012.” I bought the supplies and got to work.

I started by labeling the Ziploc bags with my name, website address, and country. Then I made little information sheets about the colours I chose for the bracelets; red and white for Canada, green and gold for the University of Alberta and the Edmonton Eskimos, red and teal for the Stop the Violence campaign, and pink, orange, blue, green, and red for the girl branches of Guiding in Canada.

Then I got to work on the charms (which was the most fun I think!) I used the template on the Shrinky Dink packages to get the right sized charm and then I traced 200 version of it, cut them into strips, hole punched them, got a few blisters and then started designing.

I wanted the symbols on the charms to represent me so the pictures were things like trefoils, maple leafs, butterflies, owls, and trees. I am very proud of my little charms. :)


The next step was shrinking them down to the right size so I got the toaster oven out and shrunk them! It took a bit of trial and error, but I think I can call myself a master Shrinky Dink-er!

The most time consuming part of the whole SWAPS expedition is the actual bracelet making.

When I first started they were so intricate and pretty with different kinds of braiding and knots, and then as the trip loomed closer and closer I started to panic and just did simple braids and twists that still looked pretty nice (or at least I think so!) I was doing them everywhere- in the car, at home, camping with friends, in the movie theatre, on the airplane to Chicago... but I did it! I made 200 friendship bracelets for my SWAPS and I am very pleased with myself.

I have quite a few left over so I am trying to decide what to do with them. I might keep them as a part of my prize packs for joining the website- or I might keep them for a future event- or I might send them to Sangam as part of the program to sell them in the shop there.

So that is my experience! I hope if you have to do SWAPS for something you will have as much fun as I did and hopefully this helped a bit!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Girls World Forum Day Six!

Technically the Forum is over and I am sitting on an airplane on my way back to Edmonton but I still have so much to say! This post is mainly to say thank you. Thank you to the GWF planning team, Girl Scouts USA, WAGGGS, and the Marriot Hotel on Michigan Avenue, and all of the participants of this wonderful event. I have made so many friends and relationships with girls and young women from around the world and I hope they had as good a time as I did. Thank you also to Girl Guides of Canada for allowing me to have a second once in a lifetime experience representing the organization I love so much and supporting the delegates in their take action projects.

Now I have not won an Oscar so I will continue on :)

Finally I would just like to give a word of advice to all of the changemakers who attended the Forum. Always remember that you have something to offer this world, something that will change it for the better. Don't give up if you hit a roadblock- get some support and keep on travelling down the road to a better future for everyone. I hope that the Girls World Forum 2012 is something that you will remember for the rest of your life and you will harness your potential and go!


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people, can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

Monday, July 16, 2012

Girls World Forum Day Five!

I can't believe today was the last day of the Girls World Forum! As always we started off bright and early with an expo of various organizations including the WAGGGS World Centres, the US Peace Core, UNICEF, Heifer International, and a few others. It was interesting to see what different organizations are doing to help reach the Millennium Development Goals and I got a few good resources to help with some of my projects.

This is a picture of the Canadian puzzle piece. Each of the delegations was given a puzzle piece to write their pledge on to represent their take action plan.

We had a very special opportunity to see a sneak preview of a brand new mini series premiering on PBS (I have not looked into when it will start in Canada) Half the Sky based on the book of the same name. We got to see the segment about education in Vietnam and the challenges that girls face just to make it through school. It was fascinating and I was in tears for most of it because education is such an important issue for me. I will definitely be watching this show and will talk about it some more once it is available in Canada.

The closing ceremonies for the GWF was excellent! We had an amazing woman come and speak to us as the keynote speaker. Her name is Dr. Tererai Trent and she was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her all time favourite guest. She is a woman from Zimbabwe who yearned to go to school and get an education. She wrote down all of her goals and dreams down on paper, sealed them in a tin can, and buried it under a rock. Years later she returned to the place she had buried her dreams and had accomplished so much including a bachelors, masters, and doctorate degree. I was also in tears for most of her talk and was so inspired. Her organization is called Tinogona which means "it is acheivable" in her native language. Here is more information about her amazing work. 

There was some time between the closing ceremonies and the final dinner and party to do a bit of shopping so we ran around the Magnificent Mile to get some last minute souvenirs and were quite successful! We got some tourist-y things like postcards and snowglobes, some t-shirts and stuffed animals and then we found the Hershey store... I wanted to get some Hershey chocolate for my dad so we went in and got some things like fudge, chocolate bars, enormous Reese's Pieces and then we found what you see above- a personalized chocolate bar. I think it is the coolest idea ever and the St.Patrick's Day theme looks an awful lot like trefoils don't you think?

The final party was a blast! There were photobooths, icecream sundae buffets, sumo wrestling suits, face painting, and of course great music and food. We had so much fun just hanging out and dancing and taking pictures. It was right at the end of the night that I had a realization of just how amazing the global sisterhood of Guiding and Scouting is. The dancing was over, the food was gone and all that remained were girls and chaperones standing in a circle holding hands and singing Linger. It was incredibly moving and so many people were crying (of course I was one of them). We all gave enormous hugs and headed upstairs to pack. It was such an amazing night!

Here is a picture of my super cool facepaint :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Girls World Forum Day Four!

Today was a day full of skill building sessions and exploring the beautiful city of Chicago. I did four sessions all on very different things that will help the girls with their take action projects. The first session I went to was all about media and communication. I thought this was a very important session because a lot of what I do involves social media and I know that I can work on being more effective with my delivery. I was kind of surprised with some of the chaperones' aversion to social media saying that it was terrible and ruining how we communicate, but my take on it is it is happening whether we like it or not so we might as well embrace it!

The next session was all about mentoring for healthy self-esteem, which was very similar to the Dove self esteem fund sleepover curriculum. I found it fascinating that despite being from around the world a lot of the girls struggled with the same problems with self esteem and body image. We also did a really interesting activity where we had to write ten of our traits on little strips of paper and then rank them from what we like most to least about ourselves. Then we had to take away five of these traits and see how we felt- did we still feel like ourselves? Did we like what we saw? It was very interesting and I definitely want to try the activity with girls.

The third session was about fund development which I thought would be really interesting and helpful because I want to start doing some bigger things, but I found that it was not really relevant to Girl Guides of Canada because a lot of the policies and such were different than the United States. I will have to do a bit more research before I start applying for grants and stuff but it was a good start.

The final session was about partnering up with the community which I quite enjoyed. We got to talk about some of the projects the girls were planning to do which was really interesting. The girls from Canada are going to start quite a project- a mentorship program for young girls (probably between 12-17) with female politicians and women in leadership positions. Right now it is just an idea but I will fully support it and I am so proud of them for all of their hard work on their take action plan. :)
We had some time to work on the take action plans and then it was time for dinner. The girls decided that they could not leave Chicago without trying authentic deep dish pizza so they ordered that and I have never seen a bigger pizza or held a piece of food that was so heavy! It was delicious though and I am glad we had it but man it was big!

The final order of business for the day was a scavenger hunt around Chicago where we got to see the Bean (pictured below) in Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, the water tower- one of the only buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire, and a few other significant buildings around our hotel on the Magnificent Mile. It was a lot of fun and we got to see all of the sights we wanted to on our trip to this amazing city! 

It is so hard to believe that we only have one day left! It has gone by so fast and I am so proud of all of the work the delegates from around the world have done and I am confident they will change the world!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Girls World Forum Day Three!

Today was another incredibly busy day at the Girls World Forum. We started off bright and early with a session on project planning and what the chaperones' role is in the girls' projects. I found that really helpful because I wasn't too sure what my role was in there projects and project planning. Overall it made me really excited to see what my delegates plan to do after the Forum.

Next I had a very cool experience at a place called JourneyWorld. It is built like a miniature city with businesses, a town hall, a bank, and a town square. It really sparked an interest with me because it reminded me of a facility we used to have called Kidtropolis. I think that the skills we learned and the fun we had is something that we should harness back home and build a facility like that for girls to use. I think that I might look into how much it would cost to have a centre built like that. I was a utility manager AKA a gas meter reader which was pretty fun. I was so impressed by the set up of the building and the program that went along with it. Here is a link for a virtual tour and more information about JourneyWorld.>d

When we got back to the hotel we had a few sessions called "internal actions" where we did a session on creating things out of recycled plastic bottles, lids, containers, etc. AKA arts and crafts. It was a nice way to relax after a long day but I felt like we did not have enough time to finish anything. Then there was a session about women in politics and how to get into politics as a young woman (my favourite subject...) It was interesting but I get really fired up about quotas of women in politics and voting for someone based on their gender. Anyways it was a pretty good day but the evening was even better! :)

Tonight was International Night and it was the most fun I have had in a long time. The Canadian delegates made quite an impression in our toques, mittens, red shirts and our Canadian table with flags, stickers, Inukshuks, and beavers and of course a moose crossing sign :) We had a great dinner and then had the opportunity to tour around all of the other booths and try the foods, hear the music, watch the dances, and see the artifacts from all of the different cultures around the world. My favourite part of the event definitely had to be when we were doing the chicken dance that everybody knew and we were all having a good time and then it came to the change in the music where it gets a bit slower and Helen and I started pretending to fly around like birds. Then we looked around and saw that everyone else was doing the hoe down. We both fell over from laughter and could not breathe. As I explain it now it does not seem that funny but it was hilarious!
There was also a photo booth set up where we could take pictures and we got some great ones. Here they are!

Our honourary Canadian Paige!

Trying to play hockey on the African Savannah...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Girls World Forum Day Two!

We got up bright and early to head to the Brookfield Zoo for Millennium Development Goal #7 today and despite a chaotic start to the morning we got there in one piece and started off with a trip to do the dolphin part of the zoo. We had a few speeches from managers of the zoo and other organizations that work with the zoo and Girl Scouts. Then we saw a modified dolphin show where they did "tricks" that help with their health like being in the position to get blood drawn or an ultrasound.

We separated into patrols and had sessions on climate change, water, and deforestation. The first one I went to was about climate change and it was pretty interesting. It seemed a lot like the kind of things I learned about in biology so it was a bit of a review, but it seemed like the other girls and chaperones learned a lot about climate change and global warming. Then we went into the water session where girls had a bucket of water that represented all of the water in the world and it was slowly divided out to show how much saltwater, freshwater, and potable water is in the world. There was then another seminar where we learned about a website called where you can calculate how much water you use in a day. I will definitely be checking that out when I get home.

We had a bit of time to explore the zoo before lunch so we went and saw the monkeys and the rain forest exhibits which were very interesting. We had lunch next and it was an All American Picnic aka hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, beans, Girl Scout cookie, pop, ice cream, and watermelon.
It was very...American. :)

We had a session about deforestation and big cats and the palm oil crisis and orangutans. It was definitely my favourite part of the zoo trip. We learned about some of the symbols that are used to show what products do not hurt the habitats of animals. I will be looking into the use of palm oil in foods and products I use and hopefully reduce how much I use or only use certified palm oil that does not destroy habitat for orangutans.

When we got back from the zoo we had some free time to do some shopping and looking around so we did that for a bit right before our boat cruise/tour of Chicago. I am so happy we did that because I saw some awesome sights and also got a few decent photos (despite the fact I had to use my iPod because I am an idiot and forgot my camera at home.)

Overall it is was a great day- I had a lot of fun and learned a lot too! I am looking forward to the take action projects tomorrow and I will never be able to say thank you enough for asking me to be the chaperone on this amazing trip!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Girls World Forum Day One!

After the first day of the Girls World Forum I feel a brand new sense of inspiration and excitement about all that has happened and is happening in the WAGGGS world. I remember what it was like the very first day of the YWWF in 2010 the loud and energy filled music, the dimmed lights and colorful backgrounds- all of it just felt the same except I was not only excited for myself, also for the other Canadian girls and all of the girls at the event. All of the flags paraded in without a hitch and I got all emotional (as I always do) at the sight of just how big this incredible organization truly is.  145 flags were displayed and it was a sight that I will never forget. 

Then we had some great speakers from WAGGGS and an inspiring young woman named Sejal Hathi who founded the organization Girls Helping Girls. She had a lot to say and I am definitely going to check out more about the organization and spread the word. Her information is here.

Next we broke into various sessions- the girls in their patrols learning about Millennium Development Goal #1- eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The chaperones got together and had a session about the MDGs as a whole and did some really cool activities which I will definitely be using at home! We had lunch and then did a few more sessions about WAGGGS and how it is organized. I also was able to have a mini reunion with the YWWF2010 delegates who are serving as chaperones as well. It was awesome! We shared a few memories and got caught up on each others lives which was really nice.

Next was a delicious dinner and an open bus tour of Chicago where we saw the beautiful architecture and landmarks of a city I am slowly falling in love with. :) We saw the Willis (Sears)Tower, amazing churches and cathedrals, theatres and skyscrapers, Oprah's former houses and of course Lake Michigan. We had a fantastic tour guide who included not only what the buildings were but also the history behind them, stories to go along with the buildings, and pop culture references like which restaurants celebrities like to eat in and where movies were filmed. It was a great way to end the official part of the day.

Next the Canadians decided to venture off to Navy Pier to see the rides and the sights and sounds of the pier. We got a great picture in front of the enormous Ferris Wheel and had a great ride around. I am so impressed with these girls and they are a lot of fun to be with! Overall despite the nasty humidity it was a fantastic day and I cannot wait for the trip to the zoo tomorrow!