In 2000 Jane Bennett
was asked by her local school in Castlemaine to run an ‘informative, celebratory and holistic’ workshop about puberty and menstruation for their senior primary girls and their mothers/carers, based on her work with Natural Fertility Management
. This was the first of many CDGs, which has now been attended by many thousands of mothers and daughters.
In 2012 Jane began training experienced facilitators to run A Celebration Day for Girls in their own communities. Through their skill, generosity and passion the CDG facilitators now offer this program in 20 countries around the world.
As parents, educators, health professionals, and others who care for girls, we’re aware of the traps and hazards lurking to undermine tween and teen girls’ confidence. Attacks on positive body-image and self-esteem are frequent, making staying connected to positive role models and supports all the more important. There are many great educational initiatives underway, research engaged in, books and articles being written and movies made for the purpose of supporting girls as they mature.
One area that has not much featured in these efforts is an in-depth, multi-faceted approach to girls’ experience of the changes of puberty and menarche (first period). The common mechanistic ‘plumbing approach’ gives scant time and recognition to the many layers of the menstrual experience for girls and women. As it turns out this is a key piece of the puzzle.
Menarche signifies the beginning of a girl’s fertile years and the menstrual cycle is an intrinsic aspect of the experience of being a woman for nearly half her life for almost all girls. For many this is a time of embarrassment, anxiety and mixed messages about what it means to be a girl in a maturing female body.
Extensive research has shown that for young girls who experience menarche well prepared, with a positive introduction and emotional support, the result is higher self-esteem, fewer negative cycle related symptoms, favourable overall menstrual perception and easier subsequent births.
As such positively presented and fascinating facts, fun activities and spacious conversation around these topics can have a profound and lasting impact on girls, in conjunction with the ongoing support of mothers, fathers and other carers.
By enabling a healthy and grounded experience of the changes of puberty we deeply nourish girls’ self-esteem, self-awareness and positive body image. In this way we can support a physical and psychological integrity that und
1.Maloney, S 2010, How menstrual shame affects birth, Women and Birth, Dec;23(4):153-9