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Girls learn the true meaning of friendship

GirlPower founder Dana Kerford (centre) with staff and students at St John
Vianney's school

GIRLS at St John Vianney's School, Manly, have been learning how to put out “friendship fires”, common little arguments and upsets that happen in every friendship, using girl power.

During a two-hour workshop at the school GirlPower founder Dana Kerford, a Canadian teacher and friendship expert, talked to the girls in Years 5, 6 and 7 about the Friendship Facts, how to use the “Friend-O-Meter” to assess friendships, what is normal in a friendship, the difference between healthy and unhealthy friends and how to stand up for yourself.

Ms Kerford was in Australia to promote her GirlPower program, which aims to empower girls aged from six to 12 with the skills, language and self-confidence to develop healthier friendships.

During the workshop she discussed the many subtle, relational ways girls can be mean to one another, both in person and online, and when it was considered female bullying.

She told the girls it was normal to have conflict in a relationship.

She said not all friendships were the same and they had a voice in their friendships, but they needed to think about whether their actions would fuel or dampen the fire.

School Guidance Counselor Cintia May, who organised Dana’s visit to the school, said through the GirlPower program students learnt the difference between healthy and unhealthy friendships and how to put out those common friendship fires.

“I find the girls are much better at dealing with the really minor issues that come up in school, the ones that can blow up into something really uncomfortable later,” she said.

“They learn how to stand up to friends and how to stand up to bullies; two very different approaches.

“It just makes for a more harmonious school.”

Dana later talked about the Language of Friendship at another two-hour workshop designed for parents and their daughters.

The workshop gave parents and their daughters a common “language” for talking about friendship, helping them connect and open up those lines of communication.

Brisbane Catholic Education Office

243 Gladstone Road, Dutton Park Q 4102

GPO Box 1201 Brisbane 4001 Australia

Phone: (07) 3033 7000

Fax: (07) 3844 5101