Molly Barker is fortunate to have had those opportunities, and she wants other girls too as well.
Molly is 17 years old and has been a passionate Guiding member for over 10 years, starting as a Brownie when she was seven.
Molly has moved up through the units, and now even volunteers herself at a Guide unit to support other girls to have the opportunities and experiences that she has had, and to hopefully be an inspiring and supportive unit leader, like those she had. “More than leaders” she says – “friends.”
Some of Molly’s Guiding experiences have been literally life-changing, and in ways she had never anticipated. In 2017 Molly’s father was diagnosed with cancer that unfortunately proved to be terminal. Molly credits her Guide and Ranger unit leaders for helping her through. “Stacey would pick me up to take me to Guides and Rangers. When dad was sick, it was helpful to have the support there and to know that I could continue with Rangers – it was a little bit of distraction.”
Molly says that leaders Stacey and Victoria always asked how she was doing, and how her dad was doing, making sure that she knew they were there for her. “They were right beside me to support me afterwards; they even went to the funeral with me. It was good to have adult mentors / role models, but who were still friends. I honestly don’t think my experience in Guiding would be the same without these two amazing ladies to guide me on my journey.”
The Flight 2018 Jamboree was only a month after Molly’s dad passed away and helped her to begin moving on. “The people I shared Jamboree with and the memories I made with them will be unforgettable. I had to leave my family, but it was nice to be out there and share experiences with other girls around the same age as me” Molly says.
Apart from amazing experiences and new friendships, Molly credits Guiding with helping her discover her confidence in her leadership abilities. In both 2018 and 2019 she has been a member for the national Guiding Girl Advisory and Participation Group (GAP), through which she has been part of the decision-making process of the organisation. Her sister GAP members, she says, “are all amazing, accomplished and strong young women and I am so happy I met them.”
“I confidently call myself a leader and Girl Guiding has given me the tools to develop this part of myself and realise it is who I am.”
Molly has taken on other leadership roles at her school, becoming a House Leader, co-heading the social council and even being shortlisted for Head Girl. “Feeling confident to put my hand up to take on responsibility is something that can in part be accredited to Girl Guiding. I’ve learnt good leadership skills so that I can make sure everyone in the group is heard.” Those skills helped Molly win an Emerging Leaders scholarship at Otago University for 2020, and a local council scholarship which acknowledged her community involvement.
“I am honestly so thankful for GirlGuiding NZ, the people that make every day possible for us and continue to persevere to provide these experiences for thousands more girls in the future.
“I’m thankful for all the leaders that give up their time to develop us into stronger, more confident young women.
“If you want to be empowered and educated, to know that you can do whatever you want, take risks, and do things outside of your comfort zone, then you will be welcomed with open arms.”
Left: Molly with her mum, Sarah Cross and Governor-General Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy. Right: Molly with her Guide Unit Leader and friend, Stacey Skill, and her mother.
“I am thankful for our families, who drop us to unit meetings, pick us up from camps and smile when we tell them about what we did today.
“I am thankful to every other girl who shares in this experience and has been a friend.
“If Girl Guiding wasn’t here, then we wouldn’t have a safe environment for girls to grow into empowered women, to find who they are, where they belong, and what sort of person they want to be. So, I’m also thankful to every person who supports this organisation because you are providing girls with a stronger programme through which they can reach their potential.”
Right now, over 700 kiwi girls are waiting to have the same amazing opportunity.
But they are on a waiting list to join, waiting for a unit to open near them or for volunteers to be trained to support them. With more resources, more girls can get access to experiences and support to help them achieve their potential too.
By donating to GirlGuiding NZ you are investing in girls, now and in the future. That means that you will give more girls the opportunities and support that Molly had.
Donations will help in so many ways, from recruiting and training volunteer leaders, through helping new units get off the ground, to developing exciting new activities. You’ll be giving girls the chance to make friends, learn skills and discover their potential. You’re growing a new generation of strong women. And by donating this Christmas, your donation will have double the impact.