Qudrati Teen Leadership blog
This week’s Qudrati program had the pleasure of hosting Zein, Zeina and Soleen, three former Jordanian National Team Soccer players. Not only are these women incredible athletes, they are also trained as licensed nutritionists who changed career paths after recognizing the pivotal role that nutrition played in their athletic careers. Throughout the presentation, they emphasized that eating well and take of our bodies are essential in order to optimize athletic performance and live happy, balanced lives.
From the moment they walked in the room, dressed in their Jordanian national jerseys, Zein, Zeina and Soleen had the 30 Qudrati girls entranced. They started the workshop by addressing their own previous misconceptions about nutrition. “When we started our soccer careers, we were eating chocolate, chips and burger after practice and games. We thought, we can eat anything because we have been exercising! We soon realized that our teammates with improved diets were outperforming us.”
The speaker continued, “One of the first challenges they had to face was our personal addictions to sugar.” They explained that sugar is like a drug which triggers a dopamine response. And the more sugar you have the more you crave. They explain that these are a few of the implications of eating a lot of sugar: suppressed immune system, mood changes, increased appetite, and sugar crashes.
Zein, Zeina and Soleen asked the girls to help demonstrate where sugar was hidden. After reading the label on the back of the soda, candy bar, and even fruit juice container, the girls help measure out the number of spoonfuls of sugar in each item. With each spoonful, the girls eyes grew wider and wider. The presenters explained that being a thoughtful eater involves reading nutrition labels and even recognizing the sugar ‘substitutes’ such as fructose and glucose.
The lesson sparked excited and questions from the coaches. One girl that asked, “What’s the difference between sugar that naturally occurs in fruits and sugar that is found in sweets?” The nutritionists explained that there is a big difference between how our bodies process these different types of sugar. They advised the girls to include bananas and dates in their diets instead of chocolate. Another coach asked, “But isn’t healthy food really expensive? What if my budget is limited.” The presenters debunked this myth, comparing specific costs of inexpensive health foods to processed items. For example, the cost of snacking on a banana is much less than a processed candy bar.
The lesson concluded with a game in which the girls were tasked with assigning different foods to the food pyramid. Throughout the game, the girls learned about the importance of drinking water and the various roles each food group plays in a balanced diet. The girls learned that carbohydrates give us energy, protein repairs and builds muscle and dairy helps us build strong bones. They even provided advice on tangible ways to measure protein, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables in each meal.
The lessons learned throughout this session are already having a tangible impact on the daily lives of the girls. For example, in the practices following the nutrition workshop, the girls no longer wanted fruit juice during their snack break. They wanted to water instead. Throughout practice, our coaches continue to emphasize the main takeaways of the lesson: that in order to be strong female athletes, like Zein, Zeina and Soleen, we must fuel our bodies well!
We so appreciate the lesson these stellar athletes shared! Follow #fitholicsjo, to learn more!
By Hayden Bates, Qudrati Intern
The past 5 months, I’ve had the pleasure of interning with the first season of Reclaim Childhood’s ‘Qudrati’ program. ‘Qudrati,’ funded by AEIF (Alumni Exchange Innovation Fund) under the Office of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA), involves weekend workshops for a cohort of 15 girls between the age of 12-15 in both Zarqa and Amman. The girls come from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Palestine, Somalia and Jordan. Workshops take place in the fall and spring and are followed by a fully-funded summer service project created and implemented by the girls.
Our leadership development curriculum is supported by research on stress management and the development of executive function skills ("Toxic Stress", 2018). Executive functioning skills include (but are not limited to) setting goals and problem solving (Executive Function, 2018). Additionally, studies show that children are better equipped to deal with adversity if they experience an environment of relationships that protect them and provide positive coping mechanisms in the face of protracted displacement, chronic poverty or violence (Boyden and Mann, 2005).
‘Qudrati,’ which translates as ‘my ability,’ challenges girls to define and expand their personal capacities. We hope to address their self-understood ability to learn, lead, grow and affect change in their communities. Our weekly workshops foster life skills that are necessary for promoting resilience and provide space for conversations about the unique challenges girls face both in general and in their local communities. Through our carefully developed curriculum and insights from local experts, we aim to maintain a safe space for girls to learn, question and grow.
This weekend we resumed programing after a winter break. One Jordanian participant beamed as she reflected on her past season of the leadership development program. She spoke with confidence and poise,
“Being in Qudrati has made me stronger as a woman. It makes me realize my personal capacities. As a group we work together and, in the process, we make each other stronger.” Coach Nedal, a Sudanese coach affirmed the long-term support of the group by replying, “And Qudrati is always with you—-we are just a message or a phone call away. And the strengths we build and lessons learned here will always go with you"
The first session of spring programing focused on goal setting and gratefulness. The session opened with a discussion of the importance of goals and characteristics of goal-setters even in challenging contexts. Coaches acknowledged that setting goals can be an overwhelming task for many of us, and in this discussion, a few girls expressed that they did not have goals. This was a humbling realization, as such statements revealed circumstances that lacked hope. As we move forward with our curriculum, we hope to continue to foster spaces where girls can not only dream but have the emotional and communal support required to bring dreams to reality - however small they may be. The coaches instructed the girls to frame these goals with a ‘growth oriented’ mindset, one that believes that abilities and intelligence are not fixed.
Quradti girls responded:
“in my ideal life I will...feel strong physically, graduate from high school, get a good grade on the Tawjihi exam, travel outside of Jordan, be a doctor, help people, become a soccer player, have a car, speak another language, and be a teacher.”
The girls collaborated in pairs to narrow down their top five goals and brainstorm strategies to achieve these goals. The pairs were comprised of girls from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds including Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Jordan. While these girls may share similar challenges while living in Jordan, their respective communities do not often interact. When talking about her favorite part of the lesson one participant explain, “the opportunity to get to know each other better.” As mentioned, we firmly believe that strong, diverse communities are an essential factor for the realization of goals.
Through Reclaim Childhood’s practices, coaches’ support and weekly workshops, we hope that each of the girls can hold on to this excitement and sense of empowerment. We hope that Qudrati provides the girls, the coaches and RC Staff with knowledge, skills and relationships that make us feel more hopeful and excited about our futures.