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International Day of the Girl

Beaconsfield students participate in London event to mark International Day of the Girl

On the 10 October, six of us from Years 9 and 10 met with Mrs Henly for a very early start (5:50am) at Beaconsfield train station where we took the train to London Marylebone.  We had seated ourselves in the quiet zone, I think Mrs Henly did this anticipating quiet, however this was no mean feat for six excited girls, you could say the other passengers were glad to see us leave.  We were heading for the South Bank Centre for the International Day of the Girl.  The aim of the day was to raise awareness of the fact that millions of girls around the world are denied access to education, for reasons such as living in poverty or their family wanting them to have an arranged marriage.

 Workshop on the London EyeWe registered and were given countries and colours, the country we were given was Egypt, which is what our London Eye capsule would be called.  We waited for Egypt to be announced over the tannoy and after a near miss with Ecuador we were up and meeting our mentors.  Apart from myself, everyone else had been on the London Eye before.  We participated in a mentoring programme where we had to talk to six successful women about any goals we had and our future career choices, they also told us a bit about themselves as well and they each gave us different insights into how to overcome any barriers we had, which was highly informative as you got to hear several points of view, plus we did all this going round on the London Eye.

 Students with Georgia GroomeOn the way back to the South Bank Centre we met team GB Olympic boxer Natasha Jonas, who we got photographed with and earlier we had also spotted Georgia Groome, teenage actress, who we were also photographed with, after several nervous attempts to catch her attention.

We had a welcome speech by a variety of people on the main stage and a performance by the Boxettes, an amazing group of singers who combine beat boxing and singing, and the clapping to the song was started only by Mrs Henly herself.

We then participated in one workshop called 'when words fail, music speaks' - we shared and listened to other peoples' ideas of inspirational and motivational song lyrics, and learnt that many writers of songs tell amazing stories through their lyrics.

 Team GB boxer Natasha Jonas meets our studentsAfter that we swiftly moved on to a drama workshop, where we learnt about a girl whose father wanted her to get an arranged marriage.  This workshop was aptly titled 'just say no' and we had to act out what we would do in her situation.

We were walking to our next workshop and by this time we were flagging, we walked through the door and took in the comfy looking bean bags, colouring pencils, cameras and paper and immediately picked ourselves up.  We were tasked to write something we had learned today or an inspirational quote or message on the piece of paper, make it colourful and then have our photo taken with it.

Our final workshop was in the main stage where we listened to a girl called Laila, who had travelled from Pakistan, being interviewed by one of Plan's workers.  She had told us previously how one of her friends was taken out of school and forced into an arranged marriage.  Luckily Laila's family are supportive of her being educated and she is currently attending university.  We stayed in the stage area where we were given the final speeches and listened to another amazing singer and a poet, both performances really summed up our day and I definitely have learned a lot from the experience.

 Students at the International Day of the GirlIt was time to head back to Beaconsfield, we were in the middle of London and had to take a tube ... in rush hour.  We squeezed ourselves on the tube with the seemingly endless thousands of other commuters for what seemed like an hour but was really only 10 minutes before we were back at Marylebone.  We weren't done yet, as the queue to get up the escalator from the tube station looked as long as the Nile, so feeling sane and wide awake, we decided to climb up the stairs, which we soon realised were empty for a reason, but at least we brought smiles to the people travelling up the escalator faster than us.

After a quick dash to the train we all fell into our seats and contemplated the day we had had.  A big thank you to Mrs Henly for putting up with us  all day, and the organisers from Plan UK, who made the international day of the girl run smoothly.

I always did value my education but I think I now value it even more after learning about these girls, and it frustrates me to see people not valuing theirs.  For, as I learnt today, there are girls all over the world who would do anything to have a free education like I do.

April Walshaw

See more images from the International Day of the Girl.