Connection and wellbeing, online!
Our newest and savviest program Girl Tok was launched as a pilot in September 2020, in response to COVID-19, nationwide lockdowns and school closures across Sierra Leone.
Girl Tok is an innovative, forward thinking and adaptive program, which was designed to help keep girls feeling supported, safe and healthy during the pandemic.
Using digital tools and platforms such as mobile phones and WhatsApp, Girl Tok supported girls to remain engaged and connected with their peers whilst not physically in school, as well as preparing them to re-enrol post-lockdown and stay focused on their studies and goals for their futures!
What exactly is Girl Tok?
To help combat feelings of isolation and disconnect during lockdown and school closures, Girl Tok was created to offer safe, girl-friendly spaces, supporting girls to continue learning, develop new skills and stay connected with their classmates.
Lessons and activities were centred around digital literacy, activism, leadership, wellness, body autonomy and consent – all essential topics which are generally difficult for girls to access information on. Lessons were delivered through a black feminist lens, with an overarching focus on building confidence and life skills in girls and young women.
The program pilot was facilitated by 10 trained mentors (One Girl alumni!) who supported girls through lessons and provided guidance and support to complete activities, participate and engage. Through training delivered by One Girl, mentors were able to strengthen their own personal and professional skills, now becoming digital and tech savvy leaders and teachers within their communities!
As schools reopen in Sierra Leone, Girl Tok will continue on, providing digital lessons to girls on things that aren’t always taught in the classroom, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and sexual and gender based violence (SGBV).
Here's how the pilot program worked:
- Girls were invited into small online clubs hosted on WhatsApp and facilitated by a group of mentors.
- Girls completed activities, lessons and competitions across a variety of topics, helping to develop and strengthen skills in digital literacy, self-confidence and useful life-skills.
- Each student received educational messages and resources on topics including: navigating the internet and staying safe online, mental and physical wellbeing, body autonomy and positivity.
- One Girl staff conducted regular wellness checks via phone, helping to support the girls’ emotional and social needs (kinda like a friend giving you a quick call to check-in and see how you’re doing)
Girl Tok participants at the graduation party, December 2020, Sierra Leone.
One Girl staff and Girl Tok mentors at the graduation party, December 2020, Sierra Leone.
Girl Tok achievements so far!
Our incredibly adaptive (and super swift) pilot program achieved some amazing results in 2020!
- 96% of girls returned to formal and supplementary education (57 girls returned back to school, with 9 scholars in their final year of school attending graduation classes outside of school in preparation for their final exam)
- 69% of girls with very high life satisfaction (compared to 53% at the start)
- 19% reduction in high anxiety ratings
- Increase from 50% to 100% of girls having never used the internet or smartphone before to confidently researching topics, sending voice notes with their opinions, watching videos of inspiring women and leading online groups as mentors
- 100% of girls said they were really confident using the internet and they use it all the time, compared to only 13% at the start
Girl Tok had an incredible impact on girls’ wellbeing, confidence and communication skills, whilst also supporting them to learn new skills and become digital whizzes! We now have a cohort of confident, well informed digital leaders ready to tackle their own goals and achieve their dreams, one selfie at a time. In order to keep on sharing the knowledge, in 2021 we are expanding Girl Tok – so watch this space!