You Grow Girl – Dr Zoe Williams Talks to Years 6 and 7 about Growing Up!
GP, TV personality, ex-Gladiator and rugby player, and now author, the irrepressible Dr Zoe Williams, visited NHEHS on 14 November to give a talk to Years 6 and 7 on growing up. Chaired by Mrs Ferguson, the live event was streamed to all schools within the GDST Trust and had over 1500 pupils and staff in attendance.
Part of the GDST activity for Anti-Bullying Week, Dr Zoe Williams covered positive self talk, taking care of our minds, and facts about our amazing bodies, as well as how to support one another and build positive relationships.
Dr Zoe Williams is a practising NHS GP in London and TV personality. With a portfolio GP career, she holds a number of non-clinical GP roles, including National Advisor for Public Health England, the Clinical Champion for Physical Activity and Lifestyle for the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and is a director of the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine.
She’s the resident GP on ITV’s This Morning and presents across the BBC network, including BBC News, Horizon and Trust me I’m a doctor. You may also remember her first television appearance on Sky 1’s Gladiators as the gladiator ‘Amazon’!
In 2017, Zoe founded the non-profit organisation Fit4LifeCIC, to encourage vulnerable young people to co-create physical activity interventions to improve their health and wellbeing. She recently published her first book You Grow Girl: The Complete No Worries Guide to Growing Up (Hachette, £9.99)
Dr Williams talked about how she turned her negative mindset into a positive one, despite suffering from a lack of confidence, bad asthma and being told by her teachers that she should choose a more ‘attainable’ career aspiration as she wouldn’t make a doctor.
While at medical school, Dr Williams played rugby, appearing with the Blaydon Women’s Rugby Football Club in the Premiership Division. She credits rugby for giving her competitive drive, growing in confidence, and helping strengthen her heart and lungs to overcome her asthma. She also found her tribe of like-minded women who she is still friends with today.
Dr Williams was inspired to write You Grow Girl to help girls gain confidence and understand their bodies and mental health through puberty – an often confusing and stressful time. It’s the book she said she’d loved to have read growing up.
To give pupils the tools to find their own calmness and positivity, she led them through a mantra activity – thinking about how positive comments make you feel – and a mindfulness exercise to focus on the present – listing 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. She also directed pupils in a Box Breathing exercise, breathing in, holding, breathing out and then holding again for 4 seconds each. It definitely worked – the atmosphere in the room that had been very excitable was immediately calmer and more focused!
Pupils then had to guess whether facts about our bodies were true or false. It was amazing to learn that we have between 2,000,000 to 5,000,000 sweat glands in our bodies (but only the ones that secrete hormones, located mostly in our armpits and groin area, are responsible for body odour). Other incredible facts were that the average woman spends 10 years of her life menstruating – that’s the time we spend actually bleeding between puberty and menopause.
Did you know women think, walk and even look different during the four phases of the menstrual cycle due to the different hormones being released to control different functions, such as maturing eggs, ovulating, and shedding the lining of the uterus? Dr Williams offered pupils some incredible hormone hacks to help them understand the side effects and the superpowers of these different phases and get the best out of their performance.
Questions from GDST students across the Trust had been submitted in advance and were then read out on the live link by five NHEHS pupils for Dr Williams to answer. Finally, NHEHS pupils were delighted to get their copies of her book signed at the end of the event.
Thank you to Dr Zoe Williams for what was a truly inspiring and uplifting talk and we hope you will make a return visit to us soon!