Exercise, eating well and positive reinforcement are helping to improve the confidence and lives of young girls at Rutherglen Primary School.
Teacher Emily Harris has been running “girls embrace”, a six-week program for pupils between grades four and six.
They spend an hour each week learning about healthy habits, then doing fun exercise like boxing or skipping.
The goal is not to look like a magazine model, but to feel good within themselves.
“It’s about teaching girls to really understand who they are and to use that as a strength-based approach in looking after themselves – being a good friend to themselves, being a good friend to each other and also talking about how a healthy lifestyle, with the food we eat, can help improve our quality of life,” Ms Harris said.
“What they look like doesn’t tell people anything about them, it’s about who they are inside.
“That’s really important and that’s what we need to celebrate.”
The teacher changed her own lifestyle and lost weight after a school camp where she struggled walking up hills; now she wants to be a role model for her pupils.
“It’s knowing that social media is a facade of people’s lives and that when they are strong with their identity, that combats bullying or challenges they will face in life,” she said.
Ms Harris plays netball in the winter, and was part of the B grade premiership side with Howling this year, but her message to the children is they should do whatever exercise is enjoyable for them.
Although physicality does not always come naturally to young girls, they have responded well to the encouragement and positive attitudes around them.
“It was great to see them grow and to see the barriers come down,” Ms Harris said.
“Some of the girls at the start of the program have been really hesitant and it’s really that team support that breaks down the barriers.
“Once they get that confidence, they will try new things. I even know that in my own life - you always battle with that comparisons, whether it’s going to the gym or playing sport, you always worry that you’re not good enough.”
The “North East Women Get Active” campaign will continue to showcase females in sport, in partnership with Gateway Health.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here