Changing the story for our girls - celebrating girls and cycles!
A Celebration day for Girls is designed to lead girls (10-12 years old) through a process of learning about their bodies and understanding puberty in a fun and empowering way. The program has run in Australian schools for the past 10 years as part of their health and personal development curri- culum, it‘s been introduced to schools around the UK since 2012. An interview with Friedel Fink and Noura Alfadl who are part of a world-wide facilitator network dedicated to girl‘ s wellbeing.
F: Noura, what makes CDG special and different from what is currently being offered at schools around health education?
N: CDG focuses entirely on menstrual health and wellbeing. It talks about the process of puberty in girls and about the experience of menstruation not just as a physical, but also an emotional, social and cultural one. It offers a safe place for girls to ask questions, express feelings and concerns and be curious about the process of growing up. All of this is held in a fun and relaxed environment, where the girls are engaged in fun activities while receiving information.
F: What interests you in this work and why is it important?
N: What got me interested is the fact that I am a mother of 3 daughters, and I’m one of 4 sisters as well, soI know when you have a house full of girls you need to nd ways to keep the peace. In order to support mydaughters in the best way I can, I‘m always on a quest to understand what happens in the female body. A lot happens all the time because women are cyclical creatures, and their bodies go through different tran- sitions throughout their lives.The earlier we can introduce girls to this knowledge the better. Because then they will be more open to the idea of “befriending their cyclical bodies”, to listen to their own bodies, to pace themselves, asking for help when they need to and knowing that there are self care tools available to help them navigate more smoothly throughout this journey. Especially around the time of puberty and menarche.It really is a big deal, it‘s a life changing experience for a girl. The rst message or response that she recei-ves about what it means to have a period is important and in uences directly how she feels about her bodyfor years to come, her health and wellbeing and can make a big difference on how she perceives menstrua- tion.
F: What lead you to do this work?
N: I was looking for something to help me talk to my daughter about getting her rst period. I felt that Ineeded to give her “the talk” and I was searching for ways to talk about this subject in a more holistic way; something that tells her how special this time is for her and for me as well, and a way of talking about it that was not limited just to the physical changes and hygiene routine, but that talks about menarche as the life giving gift that it is and celebrates my daughter’s potential in becoming a wonderful person. What lead you to this work?
F: My own negative experiences around the time of my menarche actually. My mother was projecting her own negativity around menstrual experiences on me and suggesting „You are gonna be in pain too“. I shut down and was scared. For me this work is creating a world that I want to see manifest and that is one where we can communicate, be outspoken and supporting our power and strength instead of feeding into shame, fear and other aspects of our psyche that are not really helpful.
F: What is a typical Celebration Day like?
N: Since the experience of menstruation is not just a physical one, we have a variety of conversations that we cover while the girls are engaged doing mindful activities, fun craft and playing games. The girls learn positive and practical information about their changing bodies, the physiology of the menstrual cycle, what are hormones are and why they are important. We talk about feelings, and give the girls a chance to ask questions. When the mothers join in later, we all have lunch together, explore stories and learn about howother cultures respond to menstruation and how they celebrate it. We nish the day with a celebration cere- mony.
F: What is your favourite part of the day?
N: A mother and daughter bonding exercise that we do, where the mom‘ s talk about the strengths and qua- lities that they see in their daughter while she is growing up and then vice versa. The words of honesty, love and gratitude that are shared are truly heart-warming: we laugh, cry, hug. It‘s a very special part of the day for me. What‘ s your favourite part?
F: The storytelling part when mom‘ s tell their menarche stories. They are not always light stories, but they always create these „ME TOO moments“, laughter and compassion in the circle. How often do we shareour menarche story? For many it‘ s the rst time they ever do. But we are story telling creatures and learnby listening to stories and by telling them.
F: What kind of feedback do you get from the mothers and daughters?
N: The response is positive and beautiful and makes me want to spread this work to every girl and hermother. Mothers would say something like: “ My daughter is so enthusiastic and feels proud and con dentand can‘t stop talking about what happened during this day. Such a huge change from the apprehensive daughter I dropped off in the morning.“ They comment about how the bond between them and their daugh- ter is perhaps deeper and how the communication channel is more open. Feedback from girls would be so- mething like: ” Discussing periods with strangers was going to be the most embarrassing experience ever, but the day was fun, I learnt a lot and I really enjoyed it in the end”
F: A very common mother question is „ Should I decide for my daughter to come or should I just bring her in?“ Your response?
N: Let‘s be realistic, most girls are not going to be jumping up and down with enthusiasm when you tell them that they will be spending a day with strangers talking about periods. I encourage mothers to bring their daughters even if she feels a bit shy and reluctant because these feelings are just normal. They willnd that the girls usually relax and be at ease in no time. In my experience all girls have a fun day and amemorable experience. They leave well-equipped and with a new sense of comfort with themselves and trust in their changing bodies. Many of us didn‘t have a positive experience, and we tried to hide it, felt embarrassed, kept it a secret and suffered in silence because we had many health problems that we didn‘t know were related to an imbalance in our menstrual cycles. Let‘s transform our attitude towards it and res- pect our changing bodies.
Let‘s change this story for our daughters, because this story of shame and secrecy about our periods is really getting old.
Friedel Fink is a Yoga & Meditation Teacher & Cycle Coach running Celebration Days in Devon.
Noura Alfadl is teaching Yoga & runs Celebration Days for Girls in London.
Learn more and check out our calender for worldwide Celebration Days:
This Interview was originally published in the 2019 spring edition of AEVA Magazine
AEVA is an independent magazine from the UKcreated by Isabella Lazlo.
AEVA brings’s the voices of the healers, the activists, the artists, the lovers, the mothers, the warrior hearted fierce protectors, the midwives and the dreamers, the daughters, sisters, the grandmothers and the great great great grandmothers.