The Pretty Teacup – Stories From Shine

The Pretty Teacup – Stories From Shine

It was the third week of our girls’ school program, SHINE. By now the 10 girls were starting to relax and enjoy the group. Their fears and anxieties were dissipating.

The key to this week’s session was a teacup exercise. Each girl was given the opportunity to select a beautiful teacup as a gift. Each one was unique. One by one they started choosing the one they desired. Laughter and joy begun to fill the room as only the surprise and delight of a gift can. 

The teacup serves as a powerful talking point with the group. We shared how the teacup is formed at the expert hands of a craftsman who begins with just a mound of clay, water, heat and a bit of time. With these ingredients the clay is pulled, stretched, cut and reshaped. It is baked and left for time to make its mark. At the end of the journey, the mound of clay is unrecognisable from its beginnings as the beauty of its transformation into a teacup is evident.  

 Just like the clay, these young girls face adversity and difficult seasons of life. But they too can be a beautiful teacup by choosing to grow and becoming a more resilient version of themselves.  

This lesson always strikes a chord; it is a powerful thought. One which can change the trajectory of a young person’s life.  

The girls left our session that day with a new source of strength in their backpack. A new thought, captured in a teacup.

Two weeks later a girl shared what had happened to her teacup which caused me to pause with a fresh appreciation for how strong these girls need to be. Her mum had seen her treasured teacup and didn’t like how it looked. Unknowing of the significance of the gift, or the symbolism of the story for her daughter, the mum broke and threw out the teacup. Later replacing it with a plain black one. 

As adults, parents and community members, we often don’t see the impact of our actions on youth. Nor do we feel the messages that we send to them.  

For this teen, she wanted to keep the peace with her mum but at the same time felt disrespected by the action.  

Reflecting on it I can’t help but wonder how the symbolism of it may impact her.  

The unique teacup she had chosen represented the beautiful person she could become, and that there was hope and purpose in seasons of adversity. By replacing the cup, the message sent is that your uniqueness is not celebrated, and your reminder of resilience is gone.  

Beyond feeling disrespected and unvalued, it would be easy for this girl to feel thrown out like the teacup. But the good news of this story is that through SHINE, she is learning to process moments like this in a healthier and stronger way. 

She can still be the pretty teacup

shine story judes cafe black teacup

Later in the session I thanked her for being vulnerable with the group.  

“I kind of just blurt stuff out!” she said.  

“Isn’t it nice to have a space where you feel safe and comfortable enough to do that?” I replied. 

She thought about it for a moment and said, “It’s better than counselling.” 

“What an interesting statement,” I thought. Counselling can be so valuable so why did this young person not feel that counselling was a benefit to her?  

I pondered for a while and I came to realise that in 5 short weeks, she’d come to taste the wonderful freedom that comes from being given the gift of time in a safe community. She’d felt what it meant to be authentic with a small group of others who care for and believe in her.  

If we are to continue to make an impact on the crises of youth mental health, we need more young people to discover what this teen found. The necessity of belonging to a caring, small group community, where you are known. Only then will we see the tide of statistics that represent the pain of young people start to turn.  


If we are to continue to make an impact on the crises of youth mental health, we need more young people to discover what this teen found. The necessity of belonging to a caring, small group community, where you are known. Only then will we see the tide of statistics that represent the pain of young people start to turn.  

Thank you, Jude’s Village for your support. Your contribution is creating small group communities where young people can thrive. 

girls group shine judes cafe
SHARE THIS:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
Share on tumblr
Share on pinterest