A Celebration Day for Girls (CDG) is a one-day workshop for 10-12 years old girls with their mother or female carer. This carefully crafted workshop was designed by Jane Bennett to support girls and mothers at this special threshold in both their lives, and to provide an affirming, grounded and connected celebration of the journey to womanhood.
At the Celebration Day girls enjoy lively discussion, fun activities, women’s stories and gentle celebration of puberty and menarche.
During the Day girls are warmly invited into the time-honoured, nurturing connection and support women have long shared with each other. Many participants report that their mother-daughter relationship is enriched and enlivened as the doors of communication in this key area of female experience and development are opened wide.
The first part of the Day is spent with girls on their own (typically 10am – 1pm) and just before lunch mothers/female carers join in for the remainder of the Day (and grandmothers who are available and wish to participate), finishing at about 4pm.
Mothers and carers
Much of the role of provider of information, wisdom and guidance naturally falls to mothers and female carers. For this reason we meet on our own (mothers and facilitator) for a two-hour session before the Celebration Day. This is an important preparation for the CDG and allows time for adult conversation and storytelling. During this session mothers commonly receive ideas and support for their unfolding mother-daughter relationship as they journey the adolescent years together. Many women also discover rich and intriguing doorways into a new experience of their own cyclic journey.
Where did it begin?
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 underpins healthy decision making around relationships, sex and fertility when that time comes, as well as other life choices.
The Chalice Foundation
A Celebration Day for Girls is an initiative of the Chalice Foundation, a not-for-profit social enterprise dedicated to promoting positive menstrual culture.
Values and Principles
We provide a non-judgemental, non-directive and inclusive space.
We welcome and value diversity of sexuality, culture, religion, family make-up and reproductive choice.
We seek to enhance the connection and communication between daughters and their mothers, between peers, and between girls and women and trusted people in their lives.
We seek to enhance girl’s and women’s connection with, and trust in, their own body and cycles, as profoundly personal means by which to connect with the cycles of nature.
Love and honour
Out of love we create a welcoming, safe and beautiful workshop space.
We honour all participants, their experiences, our group wisdom and the natural environment we share.
We aim to equip all girls and women with choice through offering possibilities.
We offer a practical approach, by promoting a positive body image and teaching body literacy, that normalises conversation, terms and experiences of the menstrual cycle and the female body.
By nourishing and supporting girls’ and womens’ greater awareness of the wonder of their body and cycles, we aim to promote greater confidence in their bodily integrity, inner knowing and outer relationships.
We strive to provide and promote the tools with which maturing girls and women can grow emotional resilience and heal shame, specifically about their female body and periods.
Through providing holistic positive menstrual education we strive to promote gender equity for the benefit of all.
We provide a quality evidence-based program, with a grounded and factually correct approach in an environment of openness and trust.
- Maloney, S 2010, How menstrual shame affects birth, Women and Birth, Dec;23(4):153-9