When COVID restrictions were enforced earlier this year, I started reading numerous articles that spoke to the impact of isolation on individuals and their mental health and wellbeing. I chatted to some girlfriends in my world and realised that being socially isolated, and the resulting feelings of loneliness was an evident challenge people were facing.
As the Key Facilitator of our ShineWomen Course at our Sydney Hills Campus, I felt a deep conviction that the principles taught in this personal development curriculum would be particularly invaluable in this season.
My thoughts went out to mothers who were schooling from home and/or working and having less time for themselves; young women who were used to being surrounded by peers and having numerous social activities during the week now being stuck at home; women who once had jobs now unemployed and generally many whose main place of social connection was their workplace.
Shine courses have always been about gathering people together in a room to create community as its strength lies in an interactive learning experience. For the first time ever, we needed to look at how we could still create this experience but in an online format. My team of facilitators and I spent five weeks reviewing and adjusting the sessions and activities to make them online friendly. We created fresh graphics and tools to make our content more visually engaging and came up with new ideas and concepts that could be effectively communicated online.
The beauty of Zoom technology was that we were able to ensure that we could still keep a large class small with breakout rooms for reflective activities during the sessions. We also used more facilitators in a session to keep it diverse, lively and engaging. We were so humbled that the preparation and thought we had put into it paid off with an average of 90-100 women engaging with the course each week and from all over the world. The impact was just as powerful as when we ran the course face to face.
Although we were facilitating the course at 7pm AEST and drew participants from across Australia, pandemic lockdowns all over the world saw participants come from New Zealand as well as Sweden, Greece, Portugal, Netherlands, England, Finland, Spain, Zambia, Dubai, Brazil, Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.
We received great feedback from our first cohort of online participants ranging from providing great practical tools to apply in their daily lives, rediscovering lost dreams , greater self-awareness, being comfortable in their identity, finding their voice, making new friends from across the globe, and helping them to feel emotionally stronger in a challenging season.
As a team we found it so rewarding to be able to engage with women from all walks of life and to see their response and constant lean in every week. It was a great opportunity to do what we love, cheering women on in their journey to understanding their worth, finding their strength and owning their purpose.
CityCare Shine Facilitator