Helen Peck, a 13-year-old Girl Scout and 8th grader from Austin, is working on her Girl Scout Silver Award project, and she recently brought her great idea and excellent organizational skills to New Life Children’s Center. If you are not familiar with a Girl Scout Silver Project, it is a big, sustainable project a girl plans, leads, and implements to help out her community.
Helen attended a “We Are Girls Conference” in Austin and went to a “Kiss Your Worries Goodbye” class where girls get to make miniature dolls out of pipe cleaners and scrap cloth materials. As they each create their own unique doll, they make a special connection with it, and the doll becomes a sort of diary replacement that a girl can tell her private troubles, worries, and special moments to—actually saying these things aloud instead of keeping them locked up inside. This is especially appealing to girls who don’t like journaling (or writing in a diary) or for those who have trouble with writing.
So Helen wanted to set up a worry doll program in a place that helps girls. A place like New Life. Helen thought of New Life because she knew her church (St. Paul Lutheran Church in Austin) makes quilts and has donation collections for the New Life girls. She made several example dolls, and offered to coordinate the initial set-up with all materials and hold a workshop to teach the girls how to make the dolls and the staff how to teach the process.
We loved Helen’s idea, but because of some of the behaviors of our residents, we would be unable to use the pipe cleaners. We have girls here who are self-harmers so we don’t allow anything sharp, metal or pointed. So Helen proposed using Wikki Stixinstead of pipe cleaners to make the worry dolls, The Wiki Stix can be bent and posed like pipe cleaners, but they don’t have wires inside. This was an excellent solution because they are sold in many stores and are inexpensive to boot. With Wikki Stix, the girls can also use their creativity to make accessories and extras to go with their dolls, like dogs, cats, purses, earrings, sunglasses, and necklaces.
The class allowed the girls to be creative, watch their own doll come to life, and then to confide their worries and concerns to the dolls instead of keeping them inside themselves. Helen left us with instructions and enough supplies for each cottage to hold another Wikki Stix session again.