Young Women Lead - Journal #2

I was an observer at the first committee meeting, for which I was very grateful; I was keen to see how everything would play out by the time it was my turn. I knew how everything worked in theory but this felt like a practice run for the whole group so we could mentally prepare for our turns. Even as a veteran committee attendee (I used to be a communications assistant for Perth & Kinross Council), this committee had my stomach in knots because it was in the Scottish Parliament and it was ours. I hoped online comments would be kind and looking at the line-up, I knew we were in safe hands.

Amy and I got a seat at the back and she furiously took notes the whole time. Sam was in the front row and her mum told her she was watching online so she “dropped her pen” a few times so her mum could see the back of her head. Being a textbook extrovert and blether, I kept thinking of conversations I wanted to have with each of the people giving evidence, especially Mandy, who I’m a huge fan of.

Something David said really stuck with me, as it echoed my own experience with sport. My mum was a champion tennis and hockey player and I’m…not athletic at all. She was keen for me to take part in sport and enjoy it the way she did and accidently passed on her competitive streak. I was competitive and tried really hard but still found myself on the subs bench at hockey every Saturday. I was playing hockey but not actually playing hockey. Any enjoyment I got from any sport only came from winning, which was a rare occurrence. David talked about this change between Primary School and High School - that sport becomes purely competitive and everyone else is left behind. I wondered how I might have gotten on if I’d been paired with a sport I was better at, rather than banging my head off a wall trying to be good at hockey.

Watching the video of the committee back later, I realised there was no introduction for the witnesses or explanation of their expertise and that might be confusing for people trying to engage with our content with little prior knowledge.

My group had one of the easier (and cheerier tasks) of looking at good practice. We all brainstormed sports groups, gyms, classes and events we knew and worked through the spreadsheet Amy made. I’d heard through the grapevine that my old high school had segregated boys and girls for swimming lessons because they found the number of students turning up vastly increased. I got in touch with the local council and they kept chasing the school for me but we didn’t get anything back in the end. It’s such a shame when they had a chance to be an example of good practice, especially when we later concluded that the most important thing schools can do is listen to their students.

Being the age I am, a lot of my friends have gone through degrees and these tend to involve surveys of some kind. I’ll always try to fill one in, just because I know what a pain it must be trying to get responses, but I respond best to ones that strike a personal chord with me, like this one - I think most women have a story about what PE was like for them at school, no matter their age.

I’m currently loving the BBC Body Positive social media campaign and they’ve involved Gina Martin, which is genius, as everything she touches turns to gold at the moment. Body positivity can feel like a mountain to climb and they’re breaking it down into bitesize chunks (an unintentional joke about BBC Bitesize revision guides).

With all of the collaboration, I realised how thankful I was to go with the group I’m in. There are a few people who I like very much but already knew I wouldn’t work well with (and I knew being with Amy would automatically make me happier) and I ended up in such a fantastic group where we all genuinely get on and have communicated so well with each other. That’s probably the thing we all learned - if you’re having a shitty time at home or you’re really busy, just tell the group so other people can pick up the slack.

Also, I didn’t have the Tor4 group appearing on my Slack feed until three weeks after this committee meeting so I didn’t understand how everyone was speaking to each other. That made me feel real smart.

Lauren Aitchison