I know Five Ideas posts are usually on Fridays. I also know that I usually keep the tone on this blog pretty light and I do things like sing the praises of the Martha Stewart butterfly punch on a regular basis. And because you read my blog, I assume you enjoy such lovely, light-hearted things as scrapbooking, paper butterflies and the odd sparkly rhinestone or three.
But today, I actually want to shake that up.
Because I also figure that if you’re reading my blog you’re most likely a girl. (No offence boys, but you are the vast minority of my readers, you’ll understand.) And because you’re reading this, you can read. And you have internet access. And you probably even have at least a little spare cash that you use on super fun but not really important things like the Martha Stewart butterfly punch. And all that adds up to mean you are one of the luckiest girls in the whole world.
Today, I am really hoping you’ll help me with something a little different. Can we – all these lucky girls around the world who read things on the internet and craft with photos and paper and glue – can we get together enough girl power to help some of the girls in the world who don’t get all the things we take for granted? Not even butterfly punches. Things like a basic education and a way out of poverty.
Recently I got to speak with someone who works with the charity Plan-UK, who told me a lot about their Because I am a Girl campaign. I was so impressed with everything they explained. They are passionate about helping children in the world’s poorest countries get on their feet, get educated and break the cycle of oppression. Last year they worked with over 27 million children in poverty. They inspired me to be thankful for my luck in this world and to try to use what I know – scrapbooking – to help others. So today, I bring you five ideas for scrapping with girl power… but also, a little something else.
Scrapbook your inner super girl
What? You don’t have a photo of your three-year-old self in a super girl swimming costume? And you weren’t obsessed with Wonder Woman for the vast majority of your childhood? (Two words: invisible plane!) Then perhaps you’ll need to get more creative, but I’m sure there is an inner super hero just waiting to go from the depths of your personality onto a scrapbook page. Find your finest qualities and immortalise them in writing – be proud of your strengths, even if the flying over buildings part of super hero life is still leaving you perplexed.
I don’t even need to explain that just the fact that I watched super heroes on television and played in a paddling pool in the back garden means I had a pretty charmed life compared to girls whose families can’t afford clothes, books or transportation to the nearest school.
Scrapbook the girls who know your history
These two lovelies literally were the girls next door – their family moved into the neighbouring house in the summer before I started fourth grade, and they had two girls my age. Scrapping an old photo of the three of us was so much fun and brought back so many memories. And it reminded me that I’m lucky to still be in touch with some of the girls I have known for years (thank you, Facebook).
A little perspective: we were about twelve and thirteen in this picture. We had nary a care in the world. But in some of the world’s poorest countries, up to one in seven girls are forced into marriage before their fifteenth birthday.
Scrapbook your own baby photo
I don’t think I had even seen this picture until a couple years ago when it surfaced on a DVD of family photos. I wasn’t quite sure exactly how to scrapbook a photo of something I clearly can’t remember in any way, but after a while, it seemed like a lovely page to do a bit of wondering and contrasting all those years ago to where I’ve ended up today. Whether you still live in the same town or you’ve moved thousands of miles away, I’m pretty sure there’s a story in there from baby you to today’s you!
And in case you weren’t already thinking it: I was not exactly malnourished there at my first Christmas. Unlike the estimated 925 million people in the world currently suffering just that.
Scrapbook a girls’ getaway
Have you scrapbooked your gratitude for the girls in your life from day to day? Almost all of these ladies blog, so it may come as no surprise to see us all on yet another scrapbook page but my scrapbooky friends and the times we can get away from real life to get together and scrap? I never want to take those good times for granted. All our group photos remind me that I am a lucky girl indeed.
Let’s not even start on cultures where it would never be a girl’s choice to spend time with friends or loved ones… because she isn’t afforded choices at all.
Scrapbook the reasons why you’re happy to be a girl
And of course, there’s always that trick of a numbered list. You could take this really seriously and come up with a stack of reasons why you are happy to be a girl or happy to be a girl today and I think the resulting page would be very moving. Or you can just get show tunes stuck in your head and decide to go with sillier reasons why being a girl is awesome.
But here’s the serious side:
More than seventy-five million girls in the world don’t get the chance to go to school. It’s something that broke my heart, especially in Cambodia – to see children encouraged to sell things to tourists because the immediate income was more ‘important’ than the long-term good of an education. As a teacher, it also brought a new definition to the words ‘teacher shortage’ to my understanding. When my class sizes were climbing and I had to send students out to find spare chairs, I worried about where things were headed, but I never once thought of turning a student out of my classroom. We talk about teacher shortages here, but we have teachers who are trained and qualified and do their best. There are places in the world where there just aren’t people to fill that role. What happens if no one in your village is literate? How do you end that cycle? You can’t do it without some sort of outside help.
I really want to help.
For the next twenty-four hours, I’m going to donate 100% of my class sales to Plan-UK and their efforts to help these girls. You get a class (for you or a friend or a sister or a daughter or a mother) and all of the class fee will go to these girls who need a hand. I’m going to make my own donation too, but the more of us who can get together and help, the better.
So you can help in a few ways:
…sign up for a class. If you want to gift it to someone else, just let me know via the notes or an email. I’m happy to send the class to anyone you would like! And you can sign up for any shimelle.com class – they are all over there on the right and they all include permanent access and the classes that run every year (like Learn Something New and Journal your Christmas) include membership every year at no extra cost.
…help spread the word. If you tell a friend about any post I’ve ever written, let it be this one. Email someone you think can help, tweet a link, share it on Facebook, pin a layout to Pinterest, tell your message board friends – whatever works for you. If you want to reblog any of these images, go for it – any way we can spread the word and generate a bit more girl power is a great thing in my book.
…check out Because I am a Girl and see the ways you can help, like signing a letter to your MP, pledging your own direct donation or reading about the specifics of the different things they are doing to help girls break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy.
…make your own girl power layout and share it on your blog or in a page gallery. SJ has already started us off, and if you let me know about your own blog post, I’ll link to it.
I promise I will get back to posting things that are light-hearted and I will return to my vast overuse of the Martha Stewart butterfly punch. But today, I just want to help these girls.
And it would be awesome if you do too.
Thank you to ScrapDolly, Natalie, Debbie, Sally, Jenni Bowlin Studio and The Making Spot for blogging their own girl power today. And more blog posts from Kat, PaperCraft Inspirations, Vicky, May, Lisa, Abbey, Dina, Ali, Mel, Rhonna and Danielle. And many thanks to those who have tweeted, pinned, emailed and shared links with your Facebook friends. Every bit of help is so very much appreciated! Thank you.
Look here to see the end result of our day of girl power!